United Utilities offers farmers free countryside stewardship advice

United Utilities is offering farmers in its drinking water safeguard zones free advice and help applying for Countryside Stewardship grants.

The water company has joined forces with Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire to offer the free advice and help as farm infrastructure improvement can help protect groundwater.

The Countryside Stewardship scheme, which closes for applications on 31 July 2018, offers grants of up to £10,000 for infrastructure works including concrete renewal on yards, livestock and vehicle tracks and guttering repairs. Farmers who also put some land into options, such as buffer strips or low-input grassland, can apply for an uncapped amount in infrastructure grants.

United Utilities catchment manager, Dr Kate Snow, explained: “The Countryside Stewardship scheme provides incentives for land managers to look after their environment and is open to all eligible farmers, woodland owners, foresters and other land managers. Its main priority is to protect and enhance the natural environment, in particular the diversity of wildlife (biodiversity) and water quality.”

Rachel Price, from Reaseheath College, added: “I’m visiting farmers within the drinking water safeguard zones to help them scope out their options. For those that decide to go ahead I can help put their application together.”

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme is delivered by the Rural Payments Agency on behalf of Defra. This year, the scheme has been simplified to make it quicker and easier to apply. Four new non-competitive offers have been launched based around the main farming types across England and there’s also a new option targeted at important upland bird breeding areas.

All application packs must be requested by the 31st May 2018.

Farmers and land managers interested in taking up this offer of free help should contact Reaseheath on 01270 613195.

To find out more about this story please contact Clare Vincent in the United Utilities Press Office on 0345 072 0822 or 07904 112484 or email clare.vincent@uuplc.co.uk