Defra to offer farmers AD funding

Up to £400,000 will be available to help individual farmers in England to access anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies.

The funding has been made available by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is part of a £3m initiative, revealed late last week.

Although announced by Defra, the funding will be administered by the recycling and waste organisation WRAP and will be available to farms with access to slurries or manures and a wish to build an AD plant to produce up to 250kW of energy.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) chief renewables and climate change advisor Dr Jonathan Scurlock welcomed the announcement and said it fulfilled one of the actions called for by a coalition of trade associations, including the NFU.

“The on-farm AD loan fund and the immediate offer of grants for project development will help encourage growth in the industry by giving access to finances that otherwise would not have been possible,” he said.

The fund will be rolled out in two phases; phase one is a series of business development grants of up to £10,000 for farmers to look at the economics and environmental potential of AD.

Phase two, meanwhile, will start in the New Year and will see the roll-out of capital loans of up to £400,000 or a maximum of 50% of the project cost.

“The technology will save farmers money on energy costs and could even boost their income if they export electricity or heat energy,” said the NFU.

Farmers who benefit from a grant will still be entitled to government incentives for producing renewable energy. The NFU said: “Small-scale on-farm AD plants are also most likely to deliver positive environmental outcomes, such as improved manure management and nutrient management, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions such as methane from uncovered slurry stores.”