Last year’s dry summer highlighted the importance of water availability, particularly on lighter land or, where vegetables are grown as part of the rotation.
The Environment Agency are actively trying to reduce both surface and ground water abstraction, particularly in areas which are currently being over abstracted. The aim is to change licences from summer to winter abstraction, as this is when water tables are generally higher, and water is more readily available. However, this strategic change in policy will require significant investment in infrastructure to succeed.
Countryside productivity grants were available for water resource management projects; grants of 40% were obtainable for reservoirs and the associated infrastructure.
With summer abstraction licences coming under scrutiny, this grant avenue offered farmers and land providers the opportunity to make a substantial investment into the future of water security. Moving forward, investing in reservoirs will allow farmers to have greater control over the variability of water availability. This control will be an important factor for protecting net farm incomes and balance sheets.
The countryside productivity grants allowed farmers to improve productivity, enhance business resilience to climate change, improve efficiency, and encourage innovation. Those applications which delivered collaboration and partnerships were looked upon favourably as the grant could deliver wider outcomes to other businesses.
Although the grants closed in June 2018, it is envisaged that grants for reservoirs and water management projects will become available in the future.
If you are considering water security and availability for the future it is worthwhile considering the options available to you now.
Planning and developing a project such as a reservoir can be time consuming. Therefore, it is suggested you undertake a feasibility study, apply for planning permission and obtain the necessary licences so you are prepared if grant funding for these project becomes available again.