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27 Farming Glastir grant deadline approaches FARMERS and land owners in

Wales wanting to apply for capital works under a water theme for the Glastir Small Grants Scheme have until Monday, January 23 to submit their expression of interest. A stand-alone scheme, it forms part

of the Welsh Government’s vision to improve water management across the principality. With a total budget of £1.5 million,

applicants can benefit from a maximum of £7,500 for capital works. Rebecca Morris, from the rural

team at Bruton Knowles, is now advising farmers and landowners to be aware of the deadline and make sure they get their applications in on time. Rebecca is also advising those

considering applying to be aware of the various criteria in place for all applications so they don’t waste time filling in the forms and collating documents only to find they don’t qualify. Rebecca said: “This is a good

scheme that will help the farmer or landowner obtain funding to improve water quality. “Grants will be awarded for

activities such as cross drains, gutters and downpipes to separate clean and dirty water run-off from yards and tracks. This will reduce the volume of dirty water so that it can be stored and disposed of correctly.

Rebecca Morris, from the rural team at Bruton Knowles: ‘Anyone wanting to be considered needs to submit an expression of interest’

“There will also be activities such

as small scale tree planting, hedgerow planting and pond restoration which will reduce the amount of water running off farmland, helping to reduce the risk of flooding. “Anyone wanting to be considered

needs to submit an expression of interest, which is available online via the Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online facility.” To discuss this or any other rural

issue, please contact Rebecca Morris on

Government cuts subsidies for crop-fed AD THE UK GOVERNMENT has

announced planned changes to the renewable heat incentive (RHI) aimed at pushing for decarbonisation and offering better value for public money. These changes include reduced subsidies for heating plants that use more agricultural crops to generate heat. Under the reformed scheme, new

anaerobic digestion (AD) plants will only receive full subsidy support if they use more than 50% waste or crop residues as feedstocks, rather than virgin agricultural crops. In a consultation response

published late last week, the energy ministry said the use of agricultural crops in heating plants is creating ‘competition with food production and reduced soil and water quality,

and typically does not deliver carbon abatement as cost-effectively’. Commenting on the decision,

Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Soil Association, said: “We welcome the government decision on AD and crops, which we see as a major step forward in restricting the uncontrolled, doubly subsidised rush to grow maize and other crops for AD. We do think the government should have gone further but this is an important first step, and we will be watching to see if the reduced subsidies lead to cuts in the use of crops as AD feedstock.” The Soil Association Policy

Director said the government’s criticism of using agricultural crops as feedstocks, rather than crop residues, waste or other by-products, echoes ‘exactly what we said in our report

‘Runaway Maize’ published in 2015’. Maize is probably the most rapidly

growing crop in the UK, having enjoyed a 23-fold increase in area planted over the last 40 years (with 183,000 ha planted in 2014), and farm unions have got firmly behind the idea of growing energy crops for use as feedstocks. However, the Soil Association’s

2015 report found that maize and other energy crops are associated with environmental damage and raised concerns that the crop is covered by a ‘double-subsidy’ because of Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) payments gained for growing the crops and feed- in tariffs for renewable energy plants using them, even though the green credentials of the energy produced are - at best - debatable.

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