Information for farmers and landowners

Farming is a key part of the economic, social and cultural identity of the Eden with 95% of the land devoted to agriculture.

With approximately 2000 farms in the Eden, many areas suffer from damage to the riverbank due to uncontrolled access by livestock.  Sediment, soil and nutrients can build up in the river, while sewage from urban and rural properties also affects watercourses.  This leads to reduced water quality, putting wildlife habitats at risk and potentially increasing the cost of cleaning drinking water.

We have a dedicated Farming and Conservation team who, over the past ten years has worked closely with farmers in the Eden catchment to address these issues by finding water-friendly farming solutions that allow them to produce food profitably whilst protecting our rivers and water supplies for wildlife and people living in the valley and beyond.

Andy (Senior Farming and Conservation Manager) leads the team and has a farming advice background as well as an appreciation of river conservation. Small, yet perfectly formed, the team is focused on working in priority areas of the Eden catchment.

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Current areas of work

Fellside Facilitation Fund Farmer Group

Formed in 2022, this group is bringing new areas of discussion into focus such as regenerative agriculture, carbon capture and mob grazing, whilst at the same time continuing to learn more about soil health, soil structure, organic matter and hedgerow management.

The Facilitation Fund Farmers’ group is part of an initiative funded by Natural England to facilitate engagement with farmers and landowners within the catchment signposting to professional advice, government schemes, providing training and farm-focused topical meetings.

If you are a farmer and/or landowner in the fellside area (Pennines) and would like to join the group, please contact Anna on 01768 866788.

Petteril (Bowscar)

This is a collaborative project with United Utilities to look at ways that nitrate levels can potentially be reduced in water supplied from a borehole. The aim is to meet with farmers and land owners in the catchment for the borehole and devise a strategy to show how nitrate levels can be reduced in the water supply and then to provide some on-going monitoring.

Find out more about the Bowscar project >>


Collaborative Agreement with Natural England on the Upper Lyvennet and the Scandal Beck

This project looks at the current Countryside Stewardship schemes available and the potential for uptake on farms in this area. This is coupled with raising awareness of The Farming Rules for Water and the future of Environmental Land Management Schemes.

If you would like to know more, please contact Andy on 01768 866788

Catchment Wise Project on Calthwaite Beck in conjunction with United Utilities

A project to help improve farm infrastructure, particularly in farmyards, to help reduce phosphate and sediment loading on local watercourses.

If you would like to know more, please contact Andy on 01768 866788

Member of Defra Technical Working Group: Clean Air Strategy

The Clean Air Strategy 2019 sets out Defra’s plans for dealing with all sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy. We have been invited to be part of a Defra Technical Working Group (TWG) that will ensure these plans are fit for purpose for both farmers and the environment.

The TWG will be working with the farming industry and key partners to agree on appropriate measures to limit emissions and the Best Available Techniques (BAT) to use – which are determined by reviewing current good practice and identifying improvements that can be made. They will also look at ways to help the rest of the industry so that everyone can reach the standards required.

Another area of concern for the group will be the practical implementation of measures in such a tight timeframe. Manufacturers and the wider construction industry will be consulted to ensure that the capacity, resources and technological advancements are available to meet the deadlines for compliance in low emission spreading and covers/housing.

As members, we will be involved in reviewing all options for reducing ammonia emissions with a view to producing a workable permitting system which recognises best practice and compliance with existing regulation and monitoring.

Read the Clean Air Strategy 2019 >>


Past projects

River Eden Demonstration Test Catchment

The River Eden Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) was a Defra-funded research project. Its aim was to assess if it is possible to cost-effectively mitigate diffuse pollution from agriculture whilst maintaining agricultural productivity. This project has now ended, so we have decommissioned the various DTC sites on the Pow Beck.

Find out more about the project at

River Petteril and Lowther/Leith Farmer Groups

The funding for our original Facilitation Fund farmers’ groups has now come to an end. Over the five years of the project, more than 60 farmers joined the groups to look at new (and tried and tested) ways to address challenges in their areas. For members of the Petteril group, this was how to reduce the levels of phosphate and sediment in the catchment, and in the Lowther/Leith, the focus was on flood management.

Thanks to Natural England for supporting the meetings, special events, and resources produced as part of this initiative.

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