Government adds £17 million funding boost for farmers to tackle water pollution

Farmers across the country will be given additional support to take action to reduce water and air pollution from their land, the government has announced today (August 2).

Over the last 15 years, the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme has been one of the main ways to help farmers tackle pollution which results from manure, fertiliser and soil running off into rivers when it rains.

The programme – which is a partnership between Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency – provides free advice to farmers to help them reduce water and air pollution through management of farmyard manure and soils among other things.

Farmers have an important role to help protect the environment which is demonstrated by the success of Catchment Sensitive Farming – in recent years it has reduced the number of serious water pollution incidents by almost a fifth, and helped farmers access £100 million in grants.

The funding for the programme will now be almost doubled, with an additional £17 million over the next three years. The new annual budget will be £30 million, up from £16.6 million in 2020/21.

This means it will cover 100% of England’s farmland, up from 40% of its current coverage, with every farmer able to access advice and support by March 2023 to help them access a range of solutions to reduce pollution.

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.

Grant applications

Natural England teams will also help farmers apply for grants to invest in new equipment and technology, such as precision farming tools that reduce the use of fertilisers and better protect the soil.

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% 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.”