The scheme is offering grants to farmers for both self-supporting slurry store covers and floating covers for slurry stores and lagoons. The Government will pay farmers £30.50 per square metre for the former and £5.60 per square metre for the latter. In order to be eligible, you must be within a water quality priority area – you can find out if your store sits within one of these here.
The grants are offered as part of a five-year Countryside Stewardship, multi-annual agreement or as water capital grants only agreements that last for two years and have a maximum value of £10,000. Please ensure you read the terms and conditions and understand the commitment of entering into an agri-environment agreement.
Both self-supporting and floating covers will prevent rainwater from entering a slurry store, reducing the amount of slurry that needs to be stored and spread and, in doing so, help protect the environment and cut your costs.
If your store is within a targeted area and you meet some other requirements, you can start the application process today with the help of a Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) Officer. In fact, all applications for a self-supporting cover grant require approval from a CSF Officer and applications for a floating cover grant are more likely to succeed with their endorsement.
If you believe you meet the criteria, we strongly encourage you to contact your local CSF Officer as soon as you are able to discuss your options. CSF is a partnership between Defra, Environment Agency and Natural England that offers free training, advice and support for grant applications to farmers to help improve water and air quality – you can find contact details for your local CSF officer here.
For applications requiring CSF approval, farmers must contact their local CSF officer by 31 May 2020 to secure assistance with applications. You are encouraged to contact them as soon as you know you are interested, please do not wait until the final day.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CSF has so far been providing advice and support by remote/digital means, including where farmers need to make Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier applications. However, this is subject to change and you can find the latest updates on CSF operations from both Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency.
Grants for slurry store covers are available through the ‘Mid-Tier’ level of the scheme, which is open for applications until 31 July 2020. Please be aware there are important deadline dates to requesting application packs before this date, which can be found on NFUonline here. While the grants are also available through ‘Higher Tier’, this level of the scheme has now closed for applications this year and will reopen for new applicants early 2021.
For a full list of Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier options and capital items that are supported by CSF, please see annex 5 of the online manual. A full list of water capital items available through a two-year capital-item only agreement can also be found in annex 2b.