The Water Environment Grant (WEG) is part of the Rural Development Programme for England, funded by the European Union. It aims to help tackle issues in a number of waterbodies that are failing to meet European water quality standards (the Water Framework Directive). A key element of this work is the 'Enhancing Public Goods in the Forest of Feckenham' project. This is focussed on the Bow Brook and Piddle Brook catchments and seeks to mitigate phosphate pollution while improving water resources, biodiversity, soil health and river corridor management.
The project is delivering a programme of advice and physical works to help the environment, wildlife, water quality, farmers pockets and our water bills. We’re looking at what are the sources of phosphorous (what are farmers putting onto the land), the pathways it can move through (mainly soil management and field drains) and receptors (in this case, the Bow Brook).
In order to reduce phosphate pollution in the targeted areas by 15%, we're helping farmers with nutrient budgeting (helping to balance what's put onto the land against what runs off it) , waterside corridor management, wetland creation and soil sampling. We're also monitoring the work to determine how successfully we can turn these proposed reductions into practice and how this will affect future land management schemes in a changing world.
This project was developed largely from the work of the Wild Pollinator Facilitation Fund Project, and many of the priorities identified there helped lead to a successful bid for funding as part of a larger collaboration between landowners, 17 of whom are now partners in our WEG project.