Water Environment Grant Scheme

Status: Open to applications
Application Deadline: 11 May 2018


Grants are available to not-for-profit organisations, land managers, and public bodies for projects which deliver specific improvement to the water environment in rural England.


Fund Value: £ 27,000,000
Maximum Value: £ 2,000,000

Value Notes

The total amount of the fund is £27 million with £9 million available each year over the next three years (2018-2021).
There is no minimum grant. The maximum grant available is £2 million.
The grant will cover up to 100% of the eligible costs.
Up to 15% of the grant can pay towards:
  • Project manager salary costs.
  • Rent or hire of site offices and compound, including utilities such as gas, water and electricity.
  • Communication and postage costs.

Extended Description

The new £27 million Water Environment Grant scheme has been launched by Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency to improve the water environment across England. The funding comes from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
The funding is to improve the water environment in rural England, which includes:
  • Rivers and their estuaries.
  • Lakes.
  • Canals.
  • Wetlands.
  • Groundwaters.
  • Coastal waters.
Projects may be in an urban area but they must benefit a rural area. For example, it could be an urban river restoration project that allows fish to migrate upstream to a rural area to spawn.

Latest Information

Applications will be accepted from 20 March 2018 until 11 May 2018. The funding will be awarded in August 2018.

Key Criteria

Applications will be considered from the following:
  • Charities, including not-for-profit organisations.
  • Land managers (farmers, foresters, tenants, landlords or licensors).
  • Public bodies (local authorities, parish councils, national park authorities)
Partnerships, such as the Catchment Partnerships, can also apply.
Applicants must have the authority to carry out all activities in their proposal, so that they can deliver their project.

Eligibile Expenditure

Projects should start before March 2019 and be completed by March 2021.
Project proposals must help to achieve one or both of the following objectives:
  • The River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) written in compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD) that protect inland surface waters, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.
  • Sites that are designated to protect their water habitat, referred to as ‘water- dependent designated sites’.
Projects must:
  • Meet one or both of the scheme’s objectives.
  • Benefit the rural environment.
  • Carry out an eligible activity.
The funding is for activities that meet the scheme’s objectives, and these include:
  • Creation and restoration of water-dependent habitats, for example a watercourse, lake or wetland.
  • Restoring ecosystems in water-dependent habitats.
  • Removing barriers to fish movement.
  • Construction of a fish pass, bypass channel, or fish easement to restore fish migration.
  • Managing the source of water pollution, especially diffuse pollution in rural areas.
  • Removing or reducing the presence of non-native species, where they are a problem.
  • Sustainable use of water resources.
  • Support for activities or events that help change agricultural practices to improve the water environment.
  • Carrying out feasibility studies for activities to tackle environmental problems in water-dependent habitats.
  • Buying machinery or equipment to carry out any of the above activities for the project.
There is particular interest in projects that provide wider benefits to the environment and local community, by:
Creating a new habitat.
  • Putting natural flood risk management measures in place.
  • Managing non-native invasive species.
  • Supporting water-dependent priority species or habitats.
  • Improving recreational opportunities or public access to the environment.
  • Increasing education and involvement with the natural environment.
  • Improving the evidence on environmental pressures.

Match Funding Restrictions

Match funding is no required


The following are not eligible for funding:
  • The Ministry of Defence
  • Historic England
  • Forestry Commission
  • Non-departmental public bodies, such as Natural England and the Environment Agency
  • Any activity that will result in commercial gain or profit.
  • Activities that the applicant must lawfully carry out or that are a statutory duty.
  • Activities that are already being funded.
  • Day-to-day running costs
  • Insurance
  • Legal and other professional charges
  • Routine accommodation or related costs
  • Financial management
  • Human resources (redundancy, unless it is a fixed term contract on the project, or pensions)
  • company business
  • Gifts or entertaining
  • Scientific research
  • Non-project related training
  • Attendee allowance at demonstration or knowledge events
  • Subscription costs
  • Purchase of land
  • Asset depreciation.

Application Procedure

The online application form, guidelines and all other relevant documents are available on the GOV.UK website.
Applicants must register with the RPA’s Rural Payments service to get a single business identifier (SBI) number, which is required to apply for a grant.
Contact the WEG Team for further information.

Addresses and contacts

Application forms may be available to download on their website, here.
Contact details:
WEG Team
Natural England 
Natural England Operational Delivery 
Shaftesbury Rd