Scottish Government launches £3bn green investment programme

The Scottish Government has launched a £3 billion green investment programme

The Green Investment Portfolio will give local authorities, developers and third sector organisations the opportunity to pitch for large scale investment to support projects reducing Scotland’s emissions in areas like renewables, waste, transport and the circular economy.

Announcing the launch in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon First Minister said:

“Scotland is determined to lead the transition to a net-zero carbon economy, and we have been clear that we must leave no-one behind.

“With 85% of the finance for this transition coming from the private sector, we must do everything we can to help all parts of the economy contribute to net-zero emissions by 2045.

“The Green Investment Portfolio supports our ethical finance ambitions by matching projects which are reducing emissions with investors so we can fully maximise their potential and promote them globally.

“This could include projects that are making buildings more energy efficient, reducing industrial emissions or even restoring peatlands. Our aim is to take to market a £3 billion portfolio of investable projects over the next three years.”

The Green Investment Portfolio will work with partners, including Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish National Investment Bank, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust, UK Department for International Trade, Scottish Renewables and the Scottish Property Federation to bring together the private and public sector-led projects.

Successful projects which are aligned to the Scottish Government’s climate change targets will receive marketing and development advice to help them raise their international profile and attract private sector investment at overseas events.

The Green Investment Portfolio is estimated to be worth £3 billion over a three-year period, with the first tranche of projects expected to be launched in spring 2020.

Water sector priorities highlighted in Environment Bill

The government will today (15 October) introduce a landmark Bill to Parliament to tackle the biggest environmental priorities, with the protection of water resources and an ambition to secure resilient water and wastewater services outlined.

The Bill also makes reference to powers to direct water companies to work together to meet current and future demand for water.

According to the government, the Bill will help the UK ensure that it maintains and improves environmental protections when leaving the EU.

Environmental principles will be enshrined in law and measures will be introduced to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive.

Legislation will also create, legally-binding environmental improvement targets. A new independent Office for Environmental Protection will be established to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if necessary, to uphold environmental standards. The office’s powers will cover all climate change legislation and hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Bill also places the government’s ambition of its flagship 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing and goes beyond the key government commitments outlined earlier this year by confirming powers to enhance nature and habitats and combat the devastating effects of plastics on the natural environment.

The Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech and introduced today, will:

  • Ensure the environment is at the heart of all government policy making and that this government – and future governments – are held to account if they fail to uphold their environmental duties, including meeting net-zero by 2050, and wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency established under the Bill;
  • Improve air quality – by fighting pollution so children and young people can live longer healthier lives. We will do this by setting an ambitious, legally-binding target to reduce fine particulate matter, PM2.5, and by increasing local powers to address sources of air pollution, enabling local authorities to work with families to cut harmful pollution from domestic burning by using cleaner fuels. The government will also be empowered to mandate manufacturers to recall vehicles when they do not meet the relevant environmental standards;
  • Restore and enhance nature – through ‘biodiversity net gain’ ensure that the new houses we build are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature, helping to deliver thriving natural spaces for local communities. We will improve protection for our natural habitats in supporting a Nature Recovery Network by establishing Local Nature Recovery Strategies and giving communities a greater say in the protection of local trees;
  • Transform the way we manage our waste – through powers to ensure that producers take responsibility for the waste they create, introducing a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing bottle deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement. Powers to introduce new charges will minimise the use and impacts of single use plastics;
  • Protect precious water resources – by increasing sustainable water management through securing long-term, resilient water and wastewater services in the face of a changing climate. Powers to direct water companies to work together to meet current and future demand for water will make planning more robust.

While the Bill applies only to England, more than half of its measures – such as those designed to drive up recycling rates – are designed to apply across the UK, with the consent of devolved administrations, helping the nation deal with the major environmental challenges we face together.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Our natural environment is a vital shared resource and the need to act to secure it for generations to come is clear.

“That’s why our landmark Environment Bill leads a green transformation that will help our country to thrive. It positions the UK as a world leader on improving air quality, environmental biodiversity, a more circular economy, and managing our precious water resources in a changing climate.

“Crucially, it also ensures that after Brexit, environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government, both now and in the future.”

Specifically on the water side, the key areas where changes will bring benefits include:

  • The Bill will deliver on the government’s pledge in its 25 Year Environment Plan to ensure everyone has access to a clean and plentiful water supply
  • An improvement to the long-term management of water, including providing for cooperation across water company boundaries
  • Measures to prevent environmentally damaging removal of water from the environment.


Industry reaction:

Water UK spokesperson said: “It’s good to see that the Environment Bill focuses on many issues the water industry has been calling for action on, like a commitment to clear, long-term targets and the need to have resilient water supplies and drainage.

“Water companies are passionate about playing a positive role in protecting our natural world, as shown in the industry’s Public Interest Commitment which by 2030 will prevent the equivalent of four billion plastic bottles ending up as waste, and see the industry have net-zero carbon emissions.

“In the face of climate change and population growth, business as usual is not an option. We all need to take action to protect the nation’s water supplies, ensuring the best possible service for customers while protecting our environment. We look forward to working with the government to achieve this.”

EA sets 2030 net zero emissions aim

Meeting this goal, which is based on the internationally-recognised Science Based Target Initiative methodology, would see the Environment Agency go beyond what was set out in the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

It will seek to meet the goal by reducing the emissions of its own activities and supply chain by 45%, with the remaining emissions addressed through tree planting or other measures.

The Environment Agency will also explore whether it could become an absolute zero organisation – eliminating all carbon emissions from its own activities and its supply chain – by 2050.

This will put the organisation at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency through eliminating its own emissions while continuing to protect communities and create more climate resilient places.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “Tackling the climate emergency is the biggest challenge facing humankind, and every day our organisation has to deal with its effects. Alongside working with communities to plan and adapt for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, we must also take action as an organisation to reduce our own contribution to this existential threat.

“We are under no illusion about the scale of the challenge that we have set ourselves, but action is needed if we are to preserve our planet for future generations.”

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: “In the face of a climate and nature crisis, it is encouraging to see a public sector organisation leading by example. The science is clear – we are at a critical crossroads and the time for bold and immediate action to fight climate change is now.

“Next year, the UK will host a global climate summit giving us a major opportunity to show international leadership in tackling this planetary emergency. But we must demonstrate we’re walking the talk at home by taking rapid and ambitious action to reduce our emissions in a way that also helps people and communities.”

The Environment Agency already has a successful track record in reducing its own carbon footprint. By last year it had achieved a 48% reduction in operational carbon emissions compared with 2006/7 – going further and faster than its March 2020 target of a 45% reduction.

These carbon reductions have been delivered at the same time as the agency has worked to protect 300,000 homes from the effects of flooding and continued to protect communities, and made huge progress to improve water quality – bringing rivers which were biologically dead back to life and giving coasts the cleanest bathing waters since records began.

The Environment Agency will also be working to ensure that adapting to the future challenges of climate change is a part of every major decision the organisation makes. The flood and coastal strategy will help the country plan and adapt to threats of climate change up to 2100 and create climate resilient places, but now every major decision will be made on the basis of how these core responsibilities can be delivered and how it can help tackle the climate emergency.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s independent advisor on climate change, said: “Achieving net zero in the UK by 2050 will require ambition from government, industry and individuals alike. Bold steps are needed and the Environment Agency is demonstrating real leadership by making this important commitment.”

In order to approach the challenge of net zero, each and every part of the Environment Agency will produce a carbon reduction plan. The organisation will also be working with suppliers and other stakeholders to explore how they can reduce their carbon footprint.

Through this collaborative approach to carbon reduction, the Environment Agency will not only aim to become a net zero organisation by 2030, but suppliers, stakeholders, and businesses and organisations in other sectors will also be encouraged to take similar journeys to tackle the climate emergency.

App cuts carbon emissions on Severn Trent contract

A smartphone and tablet app which allows supervisors to remotely collect real-time data has helped Amey cut CO2 emissions by 75 tonnes, according to the infrastructure firm.

The Fieldviewer app was introduced as part of the firm’s contract with Severn Trent and allows workers to view photographs of multiple sites simultaneously, reducing travel that improves employee safety and wellbeing as well as reducing CO2 emissions and our environmental impact.

The app however, was initially introduced to help remove time-consuming paper-based administrative procedures across the account, allowing individuals more time to carry out “actual supervision” as well as helping to improve the customer journey by ensuring a “right first time” approach for site set-up and repairs.

“It’s really important to us that we deliver a high-quality level of service to Severn Trent’s customers,” said Amey’s business director for water south, Andrew Ross.

Fieldviewer has allowed us to concentrate on our frontline operations, rather than spending time on non-value-add tasks. It was only when we started using the app that we realised the added sustainability and wellbeing benefits.

“We’re hoping to roll out FieldViewer more widely across the business to ensure that we can continue to deliver reliable and sustainable utility maintenance services for the benefit of the public, our clients, our employees and the environment.”

FieldViewer has been developed by software firm Techfinity. The company’s managing director Shameel Rahman said: “We built FieldViewer from scratch, specifically for the Utility sector, where it solves a number of key challenges faced by field service businesses.  We’re pleased to be working with innovative companies like Amey to make measurable improvements in delivering complex public services.

“One of FieldViewer’s main strengths is its ease of use, which has resulted in industry-leading user adoption, greater focus on completing the works rather than struggling with IT, and highly consistent data capture and on-site processes.”

Scotland’s water sector will ‘inspire a generation’

Scotland’s water sector will be admired for excellence, secure a sustainable future and inspire a generation, delegates heard at the WWT Water Scotland Conference last week.

Jon Rathjen, water industry team leader at the Scottish Government told the conference that ‘excellence, sustainability and inspiration’ will be absolutely key in Scotland’s SR21 plans, and that they ‘will deliver’.

Delegates heard that although Scotland has done a great job on sustainability so far, there is a planned programme of activity and investment that will ensure the country reaches its long-term ambitions. The government is committed to ensuring that Scotland is at net-zero emissions by 2040, and ensuring a 75% reduction by 2030. Rathjen said: “We have to accelerate to achieve our longer-term targets, and business as usual will simply not do.”

Other commitments include establishing a Hydro Nation chair to drive forward water related research in a climate changing world, and Scottish Water hosting or generating 300% of its energy requirements by 2030.

Simon Parsons, director of strategic customer service planning at Scottish Water, said: “Scottish Water will have to transform due to climatic threats to services to support a flourishing Scotland. We will change how we work to live within the means of our planet’s resources.”

Later, the conference heard from Mark Dickson, director of capital investment at Scottish Water who said that a £3.9 billion investment had been made in their SR15 capital programme, including 2,500 projects delivered with communities and customers. Nevertheless, they will need to invest more in the future to increase productivity, embrace digital, reduce waste, enhance water quality and ultimately drive innovation.

The conference also heard that Scottish Water will be looking to transform its approach to asset management by continuing to improve the information collected and decision-making capabilities, as well as replace ageing assets.

David Satti, assistant director at the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, said: “If we don’t begin to make a transition on asset replacement now, we risk pushing these costs onto future generations.

“Scottish Water estimates that it invests around £245m replacing its assets every year, the demands on investment are increasing, as are the solutions. Developing a framework for planning and prioritising investment will be crucial.”

With big sustainability and asset management targets, the industry can expect more investment and innovation in SR21 and big opportunities for the water sector in Scotland.

The WWT Water Scotland Conference was held in Glasgow on 2 October and was sponsored by Atkins, Caledonia Water Alliance and Morrison Construction.

National marine energy test facility in Wales opens for business

Marine Energy Wales has announced that phase 1 of its Marine Energy Test Area (META) project is officially open for business.

The announcement was made during a launch event held at Pembroke Port and marks a significant step in the development of the project.

With eight pre-consented sites located in and around the Milford Haven Waterway, META aims to help developers deploy, de-risk and develop their marine energy technologies to harness the enormous energy of the ocean further afield. The £1.9 million project is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, alongside the Coastal Communities Fund.


Phase 1 consists of five sites which are directly adjacent to Pembroke Port infrastructure and offers unparalleled easy access for testing marine energy equipment in low risk areas. This early stage testing will provide a vital springboard for advancing devices to commercial operation.

Joseph Kidd, Operations and Development Manager for META, said

“This announcement comes as a culmination of two years of hard work and we are delighted to officially say that we are open for business. The purpose of META is to reduce the time, cost and risks faced by marine energy developers to accelerate development in the sector, and this growth has never been more critical.

“We are facing a climate emergency and marine energy will play a significant role in reaching our 2050 net-zero emission targets. Public support for the sector is also at an all-time high and so we cannot wait to start welcoming our first customers and getting kit into the water.”

META will complement the existing test centre network present across the UK and will provide a stepping stone for developers, supporting them on their journey to the two Welsh Demonstration Zones.

As well as offering sites for the testing of marine energy equipment, META will also support research, innovation and monitoring methodology projects, working closely with Welsh universities and the ORE Catapult led Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE).

Both META and MEECE are part of Pembroke Dock Marine; a collaborative project which will develop a world class centre for the development of marine energy in Pembrokeshire. The project is due to be part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal and also includes the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone and infrastructure upgrades at Pembroke Port.

The Swansea Bay City Deal is a £1.3 billion investment in a number of transformational projects across South West Wales, funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. The City Deal is being led by Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, in partnership with Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Swansea Bay University Health

Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, said:

“Generating sustainable marine energy is an essential step towards creating a low carbon economy. The Welsh coast offers unique natural wave, tide and floating wind energy sources, which will be maximised by the Marine Energy Test Area. META will be a focussed, dedicated facility for effective research in this under-developed but vital industry, developing creative solutions to tackle global energy efficiency challenges.

“This project puts Wales at the forefront of global research into renewable energy, and tackling the challenges of climate change. EU funding is continuing to drive progress in R&D, science, infrastructure and skills in Wales, ultimately contributing to a more equal, more prosperous, and greener Wales.

Thousands of avoidable blockages costing Anglian Water around £20m pa

Anglian Water engineers have cleared 40,575 blockages from the regions sewer network in the last 12 months, 85% of which are the result of unflushables including wet wipes and sanitary products, plus fats, oils and grease (FOG).

To mark the beginning of ‘Unblocktober’, a month-long campaign dedicated to raising awareness of the problems caused by unflushables, the water company has revealed their Top Ten troublesome sewer blockages to highlight the wider issue which goes far beyond the region’s sewer network.

Figures from the last year have shown the amount of sewer blockages Anglian Water staff are finding and clearing totalled over 40,000, and cost almost £20 million. Crucially, some of the blockages are so severe they often cause sewer spills which can pollute homes, gardens and the local environment.

Anglian Water’s Top 10 sewer blockages

1.   Ipswich Yorkshire puddings (Suffolk)

2.   Louth garden sewer flooding (Lincolnshire)

3.   Peterborough sewer blockage from frozen chips (Cambridgeshire)

4.   Lowestoft wet wipes monster (Suffolk)

5.   Cambridge Sewer Sausage (Cambridgeshire)

6.   Market Harborough fatberg (Leicestershire)

7.   Offord D’arcy blockage (Huntingdonshire)

8.   Houghton Regis blockage (Bedfordshire)

9.   Hockliffe blockage (Bedfordshire)

10. Northampton Sewer wet well blockage (Northamptonshire)

A study in 2017 found that non-flushable wet wipes could make up around 93% of the material causing some sewer blockages. The wipes – which included a high proportion of baby wipes and plastics – are not designed to be flushed.

Launched by Lanes Group Plc, Unblocktober It is the world’s first month-long national campaign and awareness month aimed at improving the health of drains, sewers, watercourses and seas – driven completely by the British public.

Programme manager of Anglian Water’s own Keep It Clear campaign Rachel Dyson commented:

“Our teams work hard all year round to finding and fixing blockages on our sewer network. We have enough sewer pipe in our region to go around the world twice, meaning our engineers remove an avoidable blockage nearly every five minutes in a bid to keep our sewers flowing.

“Wet wipes cause real problems in the sewer network which can have a devastating impact on our customers’ homes and the wider environment. They are by far the worst culprit, but cotton buds, tampons and fats also cause problems too.

“Almost all of these blockages are entirely preventable, but instead lead to devastating sewage spills, can harm the environment and cost millions of pounds each year to clear. Ultimately this cost is added onto customers’ water bills and would be better spent elsewhere.”

She added that sewer blockages have been increasing in frequency in recent years with an estimated 800 tonnes of unflushable items are being wrongly disposed of every week in the East of England alone.

Ground-breaking research shows 99.9% microplastics are removed from UK drinking water

  • More than 99.9% of microplastics are removed from drinking water and waste water through water company treatment processes
  • Water industry calls for government, customers and businesses to do more to prevent plastic entering the water system in the first place

Pioneering water industry research has revealed that water treatment processes remove 99.9% of microplastic particles from sources of drinking water.

The research found that raw water (untreated water in the environment) contained on average 4.9 microplastics per litre while potable water (water that has gone through a treatment process) contained only 0.00011 microplastics per litre.

While our water treatment processes have been shown by the study to be very effective at removing microplastics from drinking water and treated wastewater returned to the environment, the water industry is calling on government and business to do more to prevent plastic entering the water environment and the sewer network in the first place.

Microplastics are present in our waterways and our wider environment due to the volume of plastics used in society today. They get into our water system both from direct and indirect sources – such as particles released from wear of car tyres on roads or microfibres released from synthetic clothes when washed – and from the breakdown of larger plastics such as litter washed into drains, and items such as sanitary products incorrectly flushed down toilets that subsequently break down into smaller particles. New measures are needed to control these causes of microplastic pollution at source.

The ambitious measures set out in the EU Single Use Plastics Directive represent a significant first step in reducing the quantity of plastic waste entering drainage systems and the environment, and must be implemented in full. Additionally, while the government’s intention to introduce an extended producer responsibility system for packaging in 2023 is welcome, stronger incentives and penalties must also be put in place to encourage producers to avoid harmful formulations in other products (such as tyres and clothes), and to take responsibility for preventing pollution and cleaning up the environment.

The research, carried out by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, is the most robust study of its kind to date. It was commissioned by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) to create a better understanding of microplastics in the water system. The research comes after a recent report from the World Health Organisation said there was no current evidence of any risk to human health from the presence of microplastics in drinking-water but called for more research into the potential impact.

The water industry is planning more research to better understand microplastics and their impact on its operations and activities. The findings and recommendations from this research will be used to inform discussions between the water industry, regulators and stakeholders to define and develop the next research steps.

English water companies are committed to tackling plastic pollution at source, aiming to prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles ending up as waste by 2030. In addition, the sector will end the use of avoidable single-use plastics in our businesses and help the public make a real difference by providing them access to tens of thousands of free drinking water refill facilities through our partnership with the Refill campaign

Steve Kaye, Chief Executive, UKWIR said:

“We’re pleased to publish this important piece of UKWIR research and share the findings with everyone who, like ourselves, is seeking to further the science around the source, fate and impact of microplastics.

“As our study shows, one of our key objectives was to ensure the sampling and analytical techniques used were robust enough to produce credible results. We’re confident the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who carried out the research, have achieved this. It’s good news that the research demonstrates the water industry’s treatment processes are performing well in removing microplastics, something they were not designed to do but are achieving with significant success.

“As ever, with important pieces of research, it has raised further questions which require more study by ourselves and others. We’ll now work with the water industry’s regulators and partners to prioritise the next steps.

 Michael Roberts, Chief Executive, Water UK said:

 “This important research underlines the effectiveness of water treatment in the UK in removing microplastics and other pollutants from our water supply. It’s thanks to these robust processes that the we all enjoy world class water whenever we turn on our taps.

 “However, while the vast majority of microplastics are removed in the treatment process, we aren’t complacent and therefore will support UKWIR in undertaking further research to understand the true nature and impact of this hidden problem.

“Action from government, industry and the public remain critical to prevent these microplastics entering our water system and wider environment in the first place. Tackling our over reliance on plastics and improving end of life collection will be the only way to effectively address any risks from such pollutants.”

Yorkshire Water awards £1bn civils framework

Yorkshire Water has awarded a £1 billion civils framework for 2020-2025, covering the full range of civil engineering requirements across its clean and wastewater assets.

In total, 18 partners have been appointed after a 12-month procurement process.

The five-year frameworks come with an optional extension of up to three years, covering design and build projects, renewal and replacement of assets, and specialist works.

Mark Baker, head of programme delivery at Yorkshire Water, said: “We are excited to see the conclusion of this process and welcome our partners to support our ambitions and challenges into AMP7.

“They will assist in the formation of a truly collaborative, innovative and efficient delivery vehicle to help meet our Enterprise delivery model aspirations. The alignment of our objectives and a Programme First approach is a new direction for Yorkshire Water and we are confident that our partners can support this ambition.”

Amey is among the successful companies, extending a relationship with Yorkshire Water that has lasted close to a decade.

David McLoughlin, managing director for Amey Utilities, said: “We are delighted that Yorkshire Water has decided to continue our partnership together. Amey makes over 30,000km of new clean water connections and completes 200,000 successful repair and maintenance jobs every year, and we’re excited to apply our expertise to the challenges that lie ahead for Yorkshire Water.

“The next investment cycle is expected to raise a variety of issues for the water industry. This includes population growth increasing the demand for water, on infrastructure that needs updating, along with the need for innovative problem solving, as the importance of looking after the environment increases. We look forward to supporting Yorkshire Water over the next five years in tackling these problems whilst delivering an excellent service to customers.”

The joint venture between Barhale and Doosan Enpure has also secured places on the framework. Activity under the awards will include infrastructure construction, refurbishment, renewal and replacement works.

Dave Shaw, regional director at Barhale, said: “We are really pleased to have been appointed by Yorkshire Water. This is a great opportunity to work alongside Yorkshire Water to deliver an exciting programme of works set out for the next five years and we look forward to building on our existing relationship as we help in its delivery.”

Barry McNicholas, group managing director at Kier Utilities, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded a place on the Yorkshire Water framework particularly as this is a new client for Kier Utilities.

“This award builds on our recent award on the five-year Severn Trent framework, a client where we have a long partnership. Such awards provide visibility and stability to our order book and with the AMP7 well underway, we anticipate further awards in the coming months.”

Complex Civils: Design, build and refurbishment of treatment assets including reservoirs and pumping stations

Partners appointed: Barhale Ltd & Doosan Enpure Ltd, Eric Wright Water Ltd, Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd, Interserve Construction Ltd, Kier Integrated Services Ltd, Mott MacDonald Bentley Ltd and Peter Duffy Ltd.

Minor Civils Lot 1: New build and upgrading works to treatment assets with limited design

Partners appointed: Amey Utility Services Ltd, Barhale Ltd, Clugston Construction Ltd, Interserve Construction Ltd, JN Bentley Ltd, Morrison Utility Services, Peter Duffy Ltd and Seymour Ltd.

Minor Civils Lot 2: Specialist works to water retaining structures

Partners appointed: nmcn PLC, Seymour Ltd and Stonbury Ltd.

Yorkshire Water helps improve farm soil health

More than 250 farms in Yorkshire, covering nearly 10 per cent of the region’s arable land, have seen an improvement in soil health as the result of farming programmes led by Yorkshire Water and food supply chain consultant Future Food Solutions.

The degradation and erosion of topsoil used for farming is a major global issue, as less soil means less carbon locked in the land, which accelerates climate change.

In response, a ‘Sustainable Landscapes’ programme has been created that is working with a number of Yorkshire farms to help increase soil organic matter to make farmland more sustainable and resilient to future climate demands.

A key element of the initiative is to encourage farmers to use fewer pesticide slug pellets, which if used prior to major weather events can impact negatively on river water quality, treatment and supply.

Best-practice agricultural techniques are also being shared with farmers, such as the planting of cover crops, which helps keep soil in the fields and not washed into nearby rivers during heavy rainfall.

This will help tackle the problem of more than 23,000 tonnes of agricultural soil being recovered from Yorkshire Water’s water treatment works on the River Derwent and Ouse each year.

Andrew Walker, catchment strategy manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “One of the key benefits that has come from our work in the uplands was the ‘Land Management guide for Upland areas’.

“Based on the success of that guide, we, as part of the Sustainable Landscapes programme, are launching a Good Soil Guide, which is a practical reference source for farmers to use in the field to inform their understanding of soil health.”

The initiative will also benefit the food supply chain in the UK as a whole by improving the long-term sustainability of farm businesses engaged in the scheme by helping them to reduce inputs such as fertilisers, increase their profits and invest in further efficiency measures in the future.

Richard Bramley, who farms at Kelfield, south of York, and is an active member of the Sustainable Landscapes programme, said: “For British agriculture to face the challenges of the future, we need to do more to strengthen relationships and build confidence in the food supply chain.

“Collaborative initiatives like this help farmers to share ideas and access support from industry-leading experts such as Neil Fuller, the soil scientist who is pivotal to the creation of the Good Soil Guide.”

Steve Cann, director at Future Food Solutions, said: “We have been working with progressive farmers for the last five years, and now the Sustainable Landscapes programme, with the support of Yorkshire Water, has allowed us to concentrate our focus on soil health.

“From an agricultural perspective, improving our performance in this area will be crucial. Building soil carbon and reducing the knock-on effect of climate change will be a key role for the UK farming sector in the future.”