Farmers in the Midlands can apply for a £5,000 environmental grant to help fund management and infrastructure changes that will protect watercourses from pollution.
Dr Jodie Rettino, Severn Trent catchment management and biodiversity lead, explains that the Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS), now in its fourth year, is the organisations biggest catchment management funding programme.
“To date we’ve awarded 936 grants worth £4 million and our farmers have also match funded £4.2 million between them,” says Jodie.
“We hope to distribute more funding than ever this year as we believe that working closely with farmers is key to protecting local watercourses, such as rivers and streams, and minimising pollution,” she adds.
“In turn, this will hopefully reduce the amount of water we have to treat and therefore help keep consumers bills down.”
Jodie explains that farms must be located within a Severn Trent priority water catchment area to be eligible for funding.
“To find out if your farm is located in a priority area, you can visit our website or speak to your local agricultural advisor. It’s then a case of deciding what improvements you’d like to make, considering the impacts on your farm business and the wider environment,” she says.
“For example, funding is available for a range of farm and field improvement works including pesticide handling areas, watercourse fencing, cover crops and much more.
“Farmers also have the opportunity to propose their own ideas in a unique ‘Farmer Innovation’ option which is very popular.”
The STEPS scheme offers grants of up to a maximum of £5,000 per year, per farm.
“This means that in the first year, you could use the funding to build a pesticide washdown area, and then in year two, you could install a roof. It’s all about offering farmers the opportunity to build on the good work they’re doing.”
Simon Scott, Harnages Estates, has applied to the scheme every year since it began in 2014.
“We’ve installed a water catchment tank, built an enclosed sprayer washdown area, constructed a biofilter and landscaped a wetland to act as a natural filter for the farm drains that filter down into the River Severn,” explains Simon.
“STEPS is ideal for us because while we have the knowledge about what’s best for our farms water and environmental management, sometimes we don’t have the funding to make it happen.”
The window for grant applications for 2018/19 opens on the 1 November 2018 and closes on 31 January 2019.
To find out the full terms and conditions of the scheme, and to apply, farmers should contact their local agricultural advisor, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thinking about applying?
1. Visit www.stwater.co.uk/steps to find out if your farm or land is in a priority catchment
2. Read the STEPS options list brochure to find out more about the wide range of options you can apply for, or, contact your agricultural advisor to arrange a visit to discuss what is best for your farm
3. Once you’ve decided on the most suitable solutions, you can apply online www.stwater.co.uk/steps
4. Severn Trent will contact successful applicants by 31 March 2019