Growers looking to make water management investments supported by Government grants should start preparing their applications now.
This is according to Andrew Spinks, agricultural business consultant at Brown and Co, who says Brexit is likely to have caused complications, particularly as most grant money comes from the EU, but more funding is expected.
He says: “The Countryside Productivity scheme meant many growers were successfully able to build new reservoirs with the funding and although no future grants for water resources have been confirmed, another grant is likely to become available in the medium-term.
"The process of preparing a project, acquiring planning and working on licence arrangements takes a long time, so rather than waiting for the next round of funds it is sensible, and advantageous in a competitive process, to start preparation of a project now.
No new grants have been announced for water management since the Countryside Productivity scheme, which offered funding towards water resource management and reservoirs, closed in June 2018.
Mr Spinks adds: “I would imagine there has got to be something because it is such an important issue. There is a strong public benefit to managing water better and the EA is looking for opportunities to reduce the amount of water farmers use. Funding to help farmers improve their water infrastructure is easily justified.
The old Leader scheme, which included water-related funding for projects, such as reservoir construction, has reopened in some parts of the UK for a short time.
Mr Spinks urges growers with an interest to contact their Local Enterprise Partnership as soon as possible.
“In Norfolk they have found another pot of money and the Leader scheme has reopened for new expressions of interest for a few short weeks. It might be that Leader schemes in other areas are also open for a little longer.
“In terms of the Leader scheme, an EU initiative to support rural development, we understand there is an ambition to create a replacement for it along those lines, but this is a few months away yet.”