Farmers and land managers in some key water supply catchment areas will be able to benefit from an innovative scheme by Scottish Water where grants of up to £10,000 a year can be claimed for actions taken to reduce pollution.
The Best Practice Incentive Scheme covers six catchments – the River Ugie and River Deveron catchments in Aberdeenshire, the Loch of Lintrathen in Angus, Craigendunton Reservoir in Ayrshire, the Dumfries Aquifer catchment and the Loch Ascog catchment in Argyll and Bute. Between them, these areas supply drinking water to more than 360,000 people and the scheme is intended to protect and enhance drinking water quality.
Scottish Water has allocated £3 million a year for the scheme but this sum will be kept under review
Farmers in the eligible areas will be able to claim grants for a range of pollution reducing measures such as establishing concrete areas for filling field sprayers for which a grant of up to £1,250 will be paid.
New water troughs away from the rivers and the pipes delivering the water to these troughs are both eligible with payments of up to £195 per trough and £3 per metre respectively.
Stock fencing to keep livestock back from the river banks will also be grant aided at the rate of £4 per metre.
Under the new scheme, farmers will be able to claim for sprayer testing, soil analysis, training in diffuse pollution and for substituting more expensive but safer pesticides used in the catchment areas.
Describing the reasons behind the new scheme, Peter Brown, Scottish Water’s water quality regulation manager, said: “The vast majority of the water in the environment is unpolluted and, with treatment, it is suitable for public drinking water supply.
“But we are not complacent and want to reduce the impact of diffuse pollution. By working together with land managers, owners and tenants in the catchments of drinking water sources, we can enhance drinking water standards, protect public health and promote more sustainable solutions than traditional treatment processes.”
When questioned on the effectiveness of this cash, a Scottish Water spokesperson said: “It is important to stress that this budget includes important research on catchment monitoring to establish the baseline situation and improvements required and is not money solely available for financial assistance.
“We are expecting to find the hotspots in some very large arable areas to allow us to target new measures that we will finance through the scheme. Financing measures in the catchment is better value for customers than Scottish Water building a large treatment works to deal with pesticides.”
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