Biodiversity funding available for Midlands farmers

New environmental and biodiversity funding is available for farmers in the Midlands
New environmental and biodiversity funding is available for farmers in the Midlands

The annual Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) has relaunched until 31 January 2022 – providing a bigger window of support to farmers.

The extended window is now offering match funding of up to £10,000 for farm improvements that address water quality issues.

Also available for applications for a limited time until 18 April 2021, is additional funding improve biodiversity on-farm under Severn Trent’s ‘Spring STEPS’ scheme.

This is exclusively for farmers who have previously received funding for, or have plans to apply for, a priority water quality item in the main STEPS scheme.

Dr Alex Cooke, principal scientist at Severn Trent, explained that the extension to the application window would give farmers greater flexibility.

“We know that farmers have had to overcome numerous challenges over the past year, including flooding, wet weather, Brexit, and pressures presented by Covid-19.

"For one year only, we’ve decided to open STEPS applications up for longer. Successful applicants will then have a further 12 months to complete their work after funding is confirmed."

She said this match funding was available to farmers in priority catchments to address issues such as nitrates, pesticides and cryptosporidium reaching watercourses.

A range of items are available from cover crops and pesticide washdown bays, to livestock fencing and covered handling areas.

Dr Cooke added: “Spring STEPS offers funded options specifically for improving farm biodiversity, such as wetland creation, inputting pollinator meadows and margins, or enhancing grasslands.”

Farmers interested in the scheme can check online if they are included in a priority catchment.