We have a new website go to gov.scot

Construction of farm wetlands - Run-off

Option closed to new applications

Introduction/What is this about?

The quality of Scotland's water environment is generally good. However, many of Scotland's river water bodies are at risk of not meeting the Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives due to diffuse water pollution, principally from agriculture and forestry. The nature of diffuse pollution is that many and varied sources may be individually insignificant but at the catchment scale can accumulate and have a significant inpact.

Constructed Farm Wetlands (CFWs) can collect, store and treat lightly contaminated run-off from roofs, roads and yards and so reduce inputs of diffuse pollutants to the water environment. Constructed farm wetlands may also intercept emergency leaks or spillages, control storm water run-off, and provide habitat and biodiversity benefits.

What will this achieve?

A CFW will help to reduce the risk of diffuse water pollution. Constructed wetlands can trap sediment and, through the retention of run-off and biological action, reduce Nitrogen, Phosphorus (soluble and particulate) and faecal indicator organism (FIO) loads to watercourses. The water exiting the wetland will have been through a range of biological, physical and chemical processes. These processes will help prevent any deterioration of the receiving waters. The reduction in FIOs will be particularly important in relation to bathing waters.

What you can do

A CFW may be an effective Option on farms to deal with lightly contaminated surface water run-off. Constructed Farm Wetlands should be designed in accordance with the SEPA Constructed Farm Wetlands Design Manual. It should be noted that natural wetlands should not be used for this purpose.

SEPA should be consulted on the proposed CFW. Where the CFW is to treat steading run-off water that may contain livestock excreta, the provisions of the Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil (Scotland) Regulations 2003 will apply.

Who can apply (including geographical element)

Farmers in Scotland. It is important that this measure is targeted to priority areas; within those areas collaborative applications, such as for a constructed wetland receiving water from more than one farm, should be encouraged.

Eligibility criteria

Land managers.

A diffuse pollution audit of the farm steading will be useful to identify the specific measure to be carried out.

What costs could be supported

The following are examples of what may be claimed:

  1. Planning
  2. Excavation work
  3. Fencing and pipework

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

For non-LFA up to 40% of eligible costs. Plus 10% Young Farmer Premium if eligible*

For less favoured areas (LFA) up to 50% of eligible costs. Plus 10% Young Farmer Premium if eligible*

*To be eligible for the Young Farmer Premium, you must be a farmer or crofter who, at the time of committing a Proposal is:

  • 16 years of age or over, but under 40 years of age
  • the head of an agricultural business (either as sole proprietor; or as the majority partner; or as the equal partner with another farmer or farmers under 40 years of age)

Note: For the Young Farmer Premium a copy of your birth certificate or other proof of age is required. Companies are ineligible for the 10% Young Farmer Premium.


The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Wetland constructed in accordance with SEPA Constructed Farm Wetlands Design Manual
  • Planning permission if applicable
  • Only lightly contaminated water is directed through the wetland

List of links to relevant technical guidance

  • SEPA Best Management Practices (BMP) guidance
  • SEPA/ EHS design manual for constructed farm wetlands.

It is likely that in most cases professional advice will be required on the location and on the design of any proposed CFW

Section on 'On the spot' inspections