New pollution grants available through North Devon Biosphere Reserve

The North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is offering grants and advice to farmers in North Devon’s Taw Torridge estuary through the Estuary Project, to help reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture and prevent the risk of flooding.

Pollution in the wetland areas of the North Devon Biosphere is largely caused by run-off from lightly contaminated concrete, farm tracks, machinery washing, animal handling and roof drainage. The Project is supporting various techniques to reduce such pollution, including swales, sediment ponds and constructed wetlands.

The North Devon Biosphere website states:

Depending on the nature of the wastewater, designs will vary in complexity from those you can easily create yourself, to something which requires more technical support, which is available from the project.”

Some areas of the Taw estuary are already listed as nitrate vulnerable zones and subject to regulation and restriction that limit the risk of diffuse pollution. The grants, which are available to landowners and farmers will therefore help prevent prosecution for polluting the estuary, as well as improve water quality, reduce flooding and increase wildlife on farmland and in the estuary.

Tom Hynes, Biodiversity officer for the UNESCO North Devon Biosphere said:

We are keen to work with farmers who are interested in looking at potentially radical solutions to the problem of diffuse pollution from agriculture.

Work that the estuary project can fund includes wide buffer strips, stock exclusion from rivers, larger swales and wetlands, leaky dams, riverside woodland planting and pond profiling to increase natural UV interception”.

Funding for work is offered at 50% of a standard cost to help improve the water quality in the area. This is vital, not just for biodiversity in North Devon, but for its local economy as well, with recreational water activities estimated to be worth around £58 million each year.

The grants are available through the team operating the North Devon Biosphere project in collaboration with the Environment Agency.

For more information and free technical advice about the grants, all prospective applicants are invited to contact Kate Weld from the North Devon Biosphere Reserve.