Robert has warmly welcomed the news that farmers will be given additional support to take action to reduce water and air pollution from their land.
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 1-2-1 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 £100m in grants.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Speaking after the announcement, Robert said: "I warmly welcome this additional funding which will help local farmers to better protect against agricultural run-off going into our rivers during times of heavy rain. This is a really important step forward in our campaign to protect and enhance the health of our local rivers in West Oxfordshire."