DEFRA has announced that it investing £25m to employ dedicated advisers in 40 catchment areas of England in a bid to reduce agricultural pollution.
The advisers will work on a one-to-one basis with farmers in the catchments areas, as well as leading a series of initiatives including workshops and farm demonstrations to encourage best practice.
The measures that farmers will be encouraged to adopt include limiting the use of fertilisers, manures and pesticides, fencing off watercourses as well as reducing stocking densities.
The England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative will last for two years and has been designed to help the government meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.
Junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley said: “One of the greatest challenges we face in boosting the quality of our water environment is in tackling pollution from agriculture. This new initiative will help address this threat by providing farmers with the understanding and know-how needed to improve farming practices.
“Working to reduce water pollution will have wide benefits – protecting plants and animals, improving the quality of water at our beaches and also benefiting tourism.”
The government has estimated that the cost of removing harmful pesticides and nitrates from drinking water is £7 per year for every customer.
It has also suggested that diffuse pollution can reduce the quality of bathing water, with detrimental effects for the tourist industry.
Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said she was fully supportive of the initiative. “By working with farmers to agree appropriate targets and practical ways of meeting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, we can use the skills and resources available to us for the good of the environment and the farming economy.”
The Water Framework Directive requires member states to protect, enhance and restore all bodies of surface water and groundwater to good status by 2015.
The full list of the catchment areas involved is:
1 Bure Ant and Muckfleet Catchments (832 km2)
15 Deben, Alde and Ore Catchments (753 km2)
14 Lincolnshire Coast Rivers (999 km2)
10 Little Ouse (Thetford Area) (1,815 km2)
9 North Norfolk Rivers (458 km2)
31 Orwell Catchment (435 km2)
39 River Eye (220 km2)
17 River Nar and Great Cressingham Fen (308 km2)
2 River Wensum (687 km2)
4 Yare and Waveny (1,696 km2)
30 Peak District Dales (483 km2)
6 Yorkshire East Riding Including Hornsea Mere (2,119 km2)
21 Yorkshire Derwent (2,107 km2)
8 Yorkshire Ouse, Nidd and Swale Catchments (1,691 km2)
34 Bassenthwaite Lake (705 km2)
11 River Wyre (402 km2)
19 Rivers Waver and Wampool (188 km2)
32 River Eden (2,432 km2)
Solway & Tweed RBD
25 Tweed Catchment (England) and Lindisfarne (893 km2)
36 North Somerset Moors (210 km2)
7 River Lugg (1,083 km2)
28 River Teme (1,746 km2)
23 River Wye (excluding Lugg) (3,089 km2)
3 West Midlands Meres (354 km2)
40 Pevensey Levels and Combe Haven (242 km2)
29 Rivers Test and Itchen (1,724 km2)
37 Sandwich Bay to Hacklinge Marshes (921 km2)
35 Walland Marsh (582 km2)
20 Chesil, The Fleet, Poole Harbour and River Frome (930 km2)
26 Dorset Stour (Middle Reaches) (437 km2)
18 Exe Catchment (1,619 km2)
24 Hampshire Avon Catchment (1,809 km2)
16 South West Cornwall Catchments (Marazion Marsh, Loe Pool, Lower Fal and Helford Intertidal, & St Austell area) (865 km2)
27 River Camel (329 km2)
5 Rivers Axe and Otter (589 km2)
13 Slapton Ley and Salcombe to Kingsbridge Catchments (158 km2)
12 Somerset Levels and Bridgwater Bay (2,535 km2)
22 Tamar and Tavy Catchments (1,357 km2)
38 Yealm And Erme Catchments (253 km2)
33 Rivers Lambourn and Kennet (909 km2)