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26 March 2018

Government Launches New Fund to Improve England’s Water Environment

The £27 million scheme has been set up with funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to help improve all types of water-dependent habitats under pressure in England.

Jointly launched by Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency, the Water Environment Grant scheme will provide £9 million each year over the next three years to not-for-profit organisations, land managers, and public bodies for projects that restore local eco-systems and deliver substantial benefits to people and the environment in rural England.

Grants of up to £2 million are available for projects that improve the water environment in rural England, which includes rivers and their estuaries; lakes; canals; wetlands; groundwater, and coastal waters. Projects may be in an urban area but they must benefit a rural area. For example, it could be an urban river restoration project that allows fish to migrate upstream to a rural area to spawn.

Potential projects could include:

  • Creation and restoration of water-dependent habitats, for example a watercourse, lake or wetland.
  • Restoring ecosystems in water-dependent habitats.
  • Removing barriers to fish movement.
  • Construction of a fish pass, bypass channel, or fish easement to restore fish migration.
  • Managing the source of water pollution, especially diffuse pollution in rural areas.
  • Removing or reducing the presence of non-native species, where they are a problem.
  • Sustainable use of water resources.
  • Support for activities or events that help change agricultural practices to improve the water environment.
  • Carrying out feasibility studies for activities to tackle environmental problems in water-dependent habitats.
  • Buying machinery or equipment to carry out any of the above activities for the project.

There is particular interest in projects that provide wider benefits to the environment and local community, by:

  • Creating a new habitat.
  • Putting natural flood risk management measures in place.
  • Managing non-native invasive species.
  • Supporting water-dependent priority species or habitats.
  • Improving recreational opportunities or public access to the environment.
  • Increasing education and involvement with the natural environment.
  • Improving the evidence on environmental pressures.

Projects should start before March 2019 and be completed by March 2021.

Commenting on the scheme, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

“The Water Environment Grant scheme offers a fantastic opportunity for applicants from across the country to secure funding for projects to enhance the environment, boost wildlife and benefit their rural community.

“This project will help us to deliver a balanced programme of environmental improvements across England and I am looking forward to seeing the creative and innovative projects of the applicants.”

The deadline for applications is 11 May 2018.

Full details…

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