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At Scottish Water we strive to ensure that drinking water supplies are clear, fresh and wholesome. While Scotland's drinking water is typically high quality on occasion substances which are not desirable such as pesticides, nitrates and colour can be found in water sources.


Sustainable Land Management: SLM Incentive Scheme, for the protection of drinking water sources

Read the film transcript here

Protecting our drinking water sources

Scottish Water takes water from the environment and treats it to provide wholesome supplies of drinking water for the people of Scotland.  The vast majority of the water in the environment is unpolluted and, with treatment, meets very stringent drinking water quality standards.

Unfortunately, some water sources are not in such good condition.  In these cases, Scottish Water is looking for new and alternative approaches to supplement the treatment of these supplies through sustainable land management. This offers the opportunity to enhance and maintain a high quality supply of drinking water, providing even greater value for money for our customers and delivering real environmental improvements.

Land managers, however, cannot be expected to cover the costs for protection of drinking water sources, where the action required to do so is above pre-existing legal requirements (e.g. General Binding Rules (GBRs), Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) rules).
To assist with this we have introduced The Scottish Water Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Incentive Scheme. Land managers can apply to the Incentive Scheme for assistance in financing measures aimed at contributing to the improvement and protection of water sources in the catchment, over and above the expected regulatory compliance.

By working together it is hoped that public health is protected, a sustainable approach to the improvement and protection of drinking water quality is adopted and that land managers are not disadvantaged by selecting a more sustainable approach.
This is an exciting opportunity to work in a different way that if successful will benefit drinking water supplies, the environment and land managers.

Who is eligible to apply?

Any land manager who owns or operates an agricultural business within any of the catchments identified in Table 1 below is eligible to apply. Detailed maps of these catchments and the measures we may finance can be found in the SLM Incentive Scheme Information Booklet.

The scheme may provide either 60, 75 or 100% of the financing required to implement the measure proposed. This varies on the item and whether the farm is situated within a Less Favoured Area (LFA).

Table 1: The catchments within which we may finance measures and the diffuse pollutants impacting these catchments. Please note that some of these items are awaiting European Commission confirmation.

 Item Description
River Ugie
River Deveron
Loch of Lintrathen
Loch Ascog
Lochgoin / Craigendunton Reservoir
Dumfries Basin Aquifer
  Pressure of Drinking Water Quality
 Pesticides  Pesticides Nutrients (particularly phosphorus)
Nutrients (particularly phosphorus) Colour (dissolved organic carbon)
Water Environment Management Plan
 tick  tick  tick  tick  tick  tick
Water Environment Management Plan  
(including nutrient management)
     tick  tick    tick
 1.3 Technical Support 
 tick  tick  tick  tick  tick  tick
 2 Pesticide controls; Plant protection product substitution, pesticide sprayer loading area, biobed 
 tick tick         
 3 Stock fencing and Livestock watering 
 tick  tick  tick  tick    tick
Field Management; Loosen compacted soil layers, cultivate and drill across the slope, manage over-winter tramlines 
 tick  tick  tick  tick    tick
 5 Reducing surface flow; Gate re-location, re-surfacing of gateways, cross drains under farm tracks, swales and check dams 
 tick  tick  tick  tick    tick
 6 Man-made ditch modifications; In-ditch seepage barriers, in-ditched vegetated re-profiling 
 tick  tick  tick  tick    tick
 7 Peatlands; Grip blocking, peatland restoration   tick tick       tick  
 8 Re-imbursement of costs 
 tick  tick  tick  tick  tick  tick

The maximum amount of financial support per agricultural business will not exceed £20,000 per annum.

This scheme complies with state aid rules under the EC regulation 1857/2006 (see below).  Some elements of the scheme may be covered by 1535/2007 on the application of de minimis in the sector for agricultural production.

How to apply?

It is recommended that all potential applicants read the SLM Incentive Scheme Information Booklet prior to completing the application form. This provides a list of eligible items under the SLM Incentive Scheme and the specifications required with each item, along with details on the application process. 

Please note that Scottish Water have currently reviewed this list and some items are awaiting European Commission confirmation, which is expected in April 2013.

The SLM Incentive Scheme has recently been revised. Click here to see what these changes are. (pdf)

Click here to access the current Scottish Water SLM Incentive Scheme Information Booklet (pdf)

Click here to access the current Scottish Water SLM Incentive Scheme Application Form (pdf)

At this stage, applications will be accepted up to 30th November 2014.

Contact Us

For further details of Scottish Water's SLM Incentive Scheme:

Please e-mail us at;

Call our Customer Helpline 0845 601 8855 and ask to speak to one of our Catchment Liaison Officers;

Or you can write to us at:

Sustainable Land Management Team
Scottish Water
PO Box 8855
EH10 6YQ

State aid compliance

European law restricts the amount of State aid given to businesses.

Item 1 is made available under Article 15 EC 1857/2006. Gross aid intensity under this article is 100%.

Items 2, 3, 4 and 5 of scheme are being made available to farmers in accordance with Article 4, 2(e) of Commission Regulation (EC) 1857/2006.

Gross aid intensity under this Article allows funding of 75% in less favoured areas and 60% in other regions where investments result in extra costs to the farmer for the protection and improvement of the environment.  

All remaining elements are either non-aid (Item 6 & 7) or covered by agricultural de minimis (Item 8).

Each successful applicant will be made an offer by Scottish Water in a letter.  The offer will be subject to certain terms and conditions which are relevant to the land and the drinking water resource that requires protection.

Catchments in the SLM incentive scheme

 Figure 1 Catchments within the SLM Incentive Scheme