A lot has happened since the Welsh Government published the proposed draft Agri-pollution regulations in the spring.  As drafted, the regulations would introduce NVZ style closed season, slurry storage, N loading and nutrient management requirements across the whole of  Wales, and would have significant implications for all farm businesses with livestock or which use fertiliser.

We still don’t know, when, if, in what form, or to what extent these regulations will be introduced, but a new £1.5 million Farm Business Grant – Yard Coverings scheme, with application windows this month and again in May 2021, may help soften the blow and make compliance easier for some.

The scheme is separate from other similar Welsh Government schemes, meaning that you can apply even if you have received money for similar projects in the past. Expressions of interest need to be made via your RPW online account between the 9th November and 18th December 2020.

The grant is intended to support roofing of dirty yard areas – feed yards, livestock gathering areas, slurry stores and silage clamps in order to help reduce slurry volumes, and pays at a standard cost of £36 / m2.  Acceptance is based on a set of scoring criteria, with more points for feed yards than silage clamps for example, and taking into account water quality and quantity reference factors intended to help the Welsh Government differentiate between applications and maximise value for money from the scheme.

As funding is for a minimum of £3,000 and a maximum of £12,000 – equivalent to a maximum of 333 square metres, between 125 and 500 farms could benefit.

Preparing your application

Whilst the application appears straightforward works need to be carried out and the money claimed within 12 months of accepting your offer of a grant from WG, and you need to show that you have (or confirmation that you do not need) planning consent and approval from your local SUDs Approval Body (also generally the local authority) before claiming.  This latter aspect is a relatively new requirement, under which all development over 100 m2 requires approval of the way in which surface water is handled.

The preferred approach is rainwater harvesting backed up by a soakaway, with discharge to a ditch or stream being a less desirable option.  In theory, farmers may have to undertake infiltration tests to demonstrate that a soakaway will or will not be effective, as well as completing the relevant paperwork or commissioning a professional to undertake the work on their behalf.  This can get costly and in some cases, the fees for planning and SUDs paperwork may exceed the value of the grant. However, it is not yet clear how rigorously the individual local authorities are interpreting the requirements of the legislation.

Rainwater makes up a substantial proportion of the contents of the slurry store on almost every farm.  With 1400mm of annual rainfall, a 300 m3 of yard (40ft x 80ft approx.) will generate as much as runoff over the year as the winter slurry from around 50 cows. Roofing will save around 40 trips with a 2200 gallon tanker.

How ADAS can help

ADAS is able to support farmers through this grant scheme by offering our expertise in planning and water management including sustainable drainage systems (SUDs). Our service aims to help farmers evaluate their farm infrastructure and see where improvements need to be made to meet regulations.

For further information please feel free to contact Charles Bentley on +44 (0)7768 924 392 / +44 (0)1994 448321 or email Charles.Bentley@adas.co.uk