With the effects of climate change well documented and the frequency and volume of rainfall tipped to have a significant (and unpredictable) effect, farmers and landowners should consider future proofing their holdings through investment in water infrastructure.

In the past few years we have been involved in the strategy, design, costing and delivery of a number of reservoir construction projects across East Anglia.

With the release of a new phase of Capital Grant for up to 40% of your project costs, now, more than ever, is the time to invest.


What are Water Resource Management Capital Grants?


They form part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) which provides funding for projects in England with a particular emphasis towards productivity, job creation, and growth within the rural economy. The Scheme is looking for projects which will:

  • Improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation 
  • Secure water supplies for crop irrigation by the construction of on-farm reservoirs 
  • Help grow farm businesses 
  • Create jobs 
  • Bring more money into the rural economy


About the Grant


  • Minimum grant of £35,000 
  • Grants can cover up to 40% of the eligible costs
  • The balance of project costs must be paid for with money from private sources, life savings or a bank loan
  •  Applications must be submitted by 29 June 2018




Existing Water Body: Projects which will increase the irrigated area must satisfy one of the following (i) the water body from which you abstract from must be classified as in either “Good” or “High” condition (80% of water bodies fit these criteria) or (ii) the “Reason for Not Attaining Good” status does not relate to the quantity of water available. You can check the status of your area on the Catchment Data Explorer at here.

Abstraction Licences: Winter fill storage reservoirs will need an abstraction licence for winter filling. Applications through the Environment Agency often require supported justification for consent which can be time-consuming particularly in light of the 29 June 2018 deadline. Assuming adequate winter volume is not already in place this may be less of a problem.

Funding: You won’t automatically get funding for all projects, there is a tiered assessment to ensure that taxpayers’ money is prioritised in order to ensure best value. Well-presented applications and those which address the priorities set out in the guidance papers are most likely to achieve the result.


Project Examples of previously eligible projects


  • Project 1: Construction of a 150,000m3 synthetically lined reservoir winter fill reservoir, installation of 8km of irritation mains and three boom irrigators. Benefits: Replacing summer abstraction, uplift in 90ha of irrigable crops to be grown on an annual basis, which involved four neighbouring farm businesses.
  • Project 222,000m3 winter fill reservoir.  Benefits: First-time irrigation on a holding and linking to irrigation system of two neighbouring farms to secure water for three separate farm businesses.




With a quoted 20% decrease in rainfall along with a 41% increase in winter rainfall expected as a result of climate change in the UK, farm businesses across the country, particularly those who can harness income returns generated from growing higher value crops, should consider future proofing their holdings for the long term.

With newly available grants, now is an opportune time to consider on-farm irrigation investment and Bidwells would be delighted to assist you. In summary, we offer the following services, which can be adapted to suit your needs:


  • Project feasibility and budgeting 
  • Grant funding and abstraction licence support and submission 
  • Full Construction and Project Management from infancy to an operational scheme


For further information please contact:

James Wood, Associate, Rural - 07880 200717

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