DEFRA offers loans for farm-scale AD projects

English farmers investing in on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) can apply for loan funding as part of a £3m DEFRA initiative.

Loans to cover 50% of project costs up to a maximum of £400,000 were announced as part of the On Farm AD Fund by environment secretary Owen Paterson today (Thursday 10 October).

The scheme is available for small-scale AD plants up to 250kW in size, primarily run on farm waste, with loans expected to be issued to farmers at the beginning of next year.

In addition to loan funding, farmers can apply for immediate grants of up to £10,000 to explore whether or not AD is suitable for their farming enterprise and develop a business plan.

Both schemes will be administered by WRAP – the government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme – and those interested should email onfarm@wrap.org.uk for more information.

“This funding provides an opportunity for farmers across the country to consider whether AD technology is right for their farms, in order to cut waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and recycle valuable nutrients back to the land,” said Mr Paterson.

WRAP’s chief executive officer Liz Goodwin said the use of small-scale AD on farms to treat manures and slurries had both economic and environmental benefits, and the fund was designed to both attract funding into the sector and provide support and material for farmers to help them access finance in the future.

NFU chief renewables adviser Jonathan Scurlock welcomed the initiative and said it would help encourage growth in the industry by giving farmers access to finance that would otherwise not have been possible.

AD and Biogas Association chief executive Charlotte Morton welcomed the news and said it dovetailed with the body’s free farmer’s consultancy service, which offered farmers support in assessing project feasibility and helped them to raise the finance needed.

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