The programme – which is a partnership between Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency – provides free 1-2-1 advice to farmers to help them reduce water and air pollution through management of farmyard manure and soils among other things.
In recent years it has reduced the number of serious water pollution incidents by almost a fifth, and helped farmers access £100m in grants to help protect the environment.
The funding for the programme will now be almost doubled, with an additional £17m over the next three years. The new annual budget will be £30m, up from £16.6m in 2020 / 21.
The extra funding will provide more Natural England advisers to help farmers implement practical solutions to reduce pollution, including planting new grassland buffer strips to improve drainage, establishing river side trees to reduce run off into rivers and using better slurry storage facilities to avoid accidental spillage.
Minister Pow spoke to Farming Today about the expansion of the programme to cover all of England, explaining how the best way to get a grip on the big issues around water pollution is to get advice on the ground to the farmer tailored to the particular challenges of their catchment.
Today’s announcement sits alongside other steps the Government is taking to tackle water pollution, including new legislation in the Environment Bill to reduce the use of storm overflows and £144m of new, additional investment from water companies on storm overflows within the current 5-year planning period (2020 – 2025).
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
Catchment Sensitive Farming has been hugely successful in tackling water pollution, giving farmers practical advice tailored to their own land and grants to support the investment in infrastructure that protects watercourses. “There are currently around 40 per cent of farmers involved in the scheme, but today we are doubling the funding available and we aim to have every farmer in the country taking part by 2023.
Marian Spain, Chief Executive of Natural England, said:
Farmers and landowners have an important role in ensuring our watercourses are protected from pollution and in improving the quality of our rivers and wetlands as part of nature’s recovery. Cleaner more wildlife rich water is vital to restore lost biodiversity and ensure people can enjoy our precious rivers, streams and ponds.
“With the expansion of the Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership to cover 100% of farmed land, all farmers can now go further than ever in reducing diffuse water pollution by seeking technical advice and grant support to create a healthy water environment as part of a sustainable farming business.’ Click here to read more