Pig producers will be able to access funding to improve slurry storage from next year, under the new domestic agricultural policy.
During a stakeholder meeting on the review of the Farming Rules for Water, Defra clarified what the Slurry Investment Scheme (SIS) will look like, according to the NPA’s Lizzie Wilson.
“The SIS will help reduce pollution from farming and contribute to the 25 Year Environment Plan and UK net zero commitments. It is also intended to help farmers prepare for increasingly effective and comprehensive enforcement of the rules around slurry management over the transition period,” she said.
“Defra acknowledged that the capital cost of slurry storage within an NVZ is high, but that increased storage capacity significantly helps to avoid spreading during high risk periods and therefore prevent pollution incidents.
“In order to future-proof public investment and support the sector in reducing its environmental impact, Defra stated that they will only want to invest in stores which are sufficiently large enough to contain at least six months’ slurry production and are covered with an impermeable cover.”
Successful applicants will be subject to conditions, such as ensuring they had received relevant environmental advice and that they were providing data on the effectiveness of the new stores.
Although the Department has not yet decided on the design of the scheme, various stakeholders, including the NPA, have been contributing to ongoing discussions with the intention that by Spring 2021, consultation can begin on the emerging ideas about how the SIS could work with farmers, experts and industry alike.
Defra plans to publish details of the scheme, as they are formed, in the second quarter of 2021 and expects to be making funding available from Autumn 2022/23.
In addition, the new Farming Investment Fund will include the provision of some slurry equipment from 2021.
Defra is currently conducting a review of the Farming Rules for Water, to which NPA submitted a comprehensive response. This review will sit alongside a review of the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2015 and the SSAFO Regulations 2010 which is to be published shortly, hopefully in May/June.
“Both reviews will form part of the whole regulatory review which may be presented as a package for wider consultation. Defra is understood to be considering the removal of the pre-1991 exemption for the SSAFO regs, but this is unlikely to be a firm commitment in the review,” Mrs Wilson said.