Fund to help farmers manage water resources

Fund to help farmers manage water resources

You can apply for a screening study with the Environment Agency to assess and rank water resources options and increase your water supply resilience as a group of neighbouring farmers.

Who can apply

You can apply for a screening study if you:

  • are a group of 2 or more neighbouring farms
  • manage or operate arable, horticultural, aquaculture or livestock farms, including ornamentals or forestry nurseries
  • currently abstract, or would like to abstract, water for irrigation or livestock husbandry located in England (you cannot apply with joint businesses or partnerships in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales)

The farmers in your group must either:

  • own the land
  • have a tenancy agreement with the landowner

You do not need to be a member of a Water Abstractor Group, farming facilitation group or similar to apply. We encourage you to consider joining or starting a group in your area to improve your water resilience.

What a screening study will do

The screening study will look at potential water resources options for your group of farmers to improve your water resource resilience.

It will screen and rank the water resources options based on:

  • hydrology
  • cost
  • yield
  • suitability for required water use

The study will be specific to your area and give location specific advice. Your group will get a report with outline requirements for the best options including:

  • guidance and next steps for implementation
  • potential barriers to progression

What a screening study will not do

A screening study will not:

  • provide legal agreements for setting up a water sharing company between members of the group
  • design engineering specifications for the local water resources options
  • reduce or remove requirements for any abstraction licence applications or planning permissions required to develop and implement the local water resources options
  • affect the likelihood of acceptance of any permit, abstraction licence or planning applications due to your involvement in a study

Taking part in a screening study will not affect any current abstraction or impounding licences you hold. You will also not be obligated to implement all or any of the recommendations in the local resources options report.

When to apply

Applications open on 22 April 2024 and close at 23:59pm on 16 June 2024.

How to apply

You will need to appoint a lead contact who will apply on behalf of the group.

The lead contact should gather all information before they apply. The lead will need to answer questions about:

  • the farm names and addresses
  • if water abstraction is being used for irrigation or other activities, for example, fish farming or supporting livestock
  • if farmers are landowners or tenants, or have another agreement
  • if farms have water abstraction licences, and any issues or concerns about the future of their licences
  • water constraints (for example, recent section 57 spray irrigation restrictions or ‘hands off flow’ conditions)
  • any existing water resource resilience measures that farms in the application group are using
  • if farms are in a formal Water Abstractor Group, farming facilitation group or similar, plan to start a group, or join an existing one

The information you provide will help us build a picture of the farming businesses who wish to be involved in the screening study.

Local water resources options screening studies: how to apply – GOV.UK (