Grants for Water Resource Management

Giles Cooper - Wilson Wraight

Given the difficulty faced by many farmers in getting cereal harvest completed due to the weather, it may seem untimely to talk about water shortages and the need to bolster supplies.  However prior to August, UK rainfall in 2017 had been down on average and those with irrigated crops have had a high usage year.  For those looking to increase their water security, storage is the most important way to achieve this.  DEFRA have recently launched the RDPE Countryside Productivity Scheme which includes Water Resource Management.  This is similar to Water Resource grants under the Rural Enterprise Scheme in the mid-2000’s.

The basics of the Water Resource grant package are:

  1. Grants available for improving water use efficiency and to secure water supplies.
  2. Can help towards:
    1. Construction of reservoirs.
    2. Pumps and pipework to fill the reservoir
    3. Pumps, controls and underground mains.
    4. Water metering equipment.
    5. Application equipment such as boom or trickle irrigators
    6. Software to optimise water application
  3. Ineligible costs include:
    1. Borehole installation.
    2. Hose reels.
    3. Rainguns.
    4. Permissions, consents, statutory requirements etc.
    5. Finance costs.
  4. Any planning consents, abstraction licence variations etc must be completed before application.
  5. Grants are for a minimum of £35,000 up to 40% of project costs, i.e. minimum project cost £87,500. Maximum grant is £1,000,000.
  6. Competitive application process.
  7. There could be restrictions if the project increases the irrigated area; depends on status of abstraction area.
  8. An application has to demonstrate one or more of the funding priorities are being achieved:
    1. Improve productivity.
    2. Enhance resilience.
    3. Improve efficiency.
    4. Introduce innovation.
    5. Grow your business.
    6. Encourage collaboration and partnerships.
  9. Deadline for applications is 3rd April 2018. Projects have to be completed, paid for and grants claimed by 31st March 2019 although there is an ultimate completion date of 15th January 2020 in exceptional circumstances.
  10. Funding is guaranteed if grants are agreed before the UK leaves the EU.

If you are considering reservoir construction or are concerned about your future water supplies now is the time to act.  Further information is available at or contact Wilson Wraight.