Last chance for Midland farmers to apply for £30,000 water grants

This year's Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) is open for farmers in the Midlands until the end of December (Photo: Severn Trent)
This year's Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) is open for farmers in the Midlands until the end of December (Photo: Severn Trent)

Farmers in the Midlands are being reminded they have just over one month to apply to Severn Trent’s Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS).

Severn Trent has issued a final call for applications to its current round of STEPS funding, which closes on 31 December 2023.

Through the scheme, farmers in priority catchments can apply for up to £30,000 of match funding to invest in solutions that will reduce water pollution risk and protect the environment, while supporting farm productivity.

Dr Adam Freer, senior catchment scientist at Severn Trent, says the company has identified three key concerns in its priority catchments.

He is urging farmers to pursue funded options that prevent pesticides, nitrates or cryptosporidium from reaching watercourses.

“For the first time, farmers can apply for Closed Transfer Systems (CTS), which enable fast, clean, and safe chemical transfer to and from sprayers, without the need for a full washdown bay,” he says.

“Plus, we’ve maintained our recently introduced packages offering up to £10,000 match funding across the board.”

In catchments where pesticide reduction is a priority, farmers can apply for up to £30,000 for washdown and disposal areas.

There is also up to 100% funding for watercourse fencing in catchments with cryptosporidium issues.

Dr Freer adds that grants are available to all types of farms, for a wide range of infrastructure and land management improvements.

“For example, we’ve seen the funds being put towards cover crops, pesticide biofilters, livestock pasture pumps and loosening of compacted soil,” he says.

“We hope that this flexibility will encourage more farmers to work in close collaboration with us and apply for grants before the 31 December cut-off date.”

One farmer who has taken advantage is Shropshire-based Stephen Rawlings, who has found the grant scheme beneficial.

The funding has enabled Mr Rawlings to introduce watercourse stock-fencing, hardstanding areas, a water pump and drinking troughs, to name a few investments.

“The STEPS offering encourages us to make investments that will also have long-term gains for the farm,” he says.

“For example, we’ve had funding for stone to strengthen gateways and water trough areas, helping to reduce poaching, soil erosion and sediment run-off.

"This also helps to prevent lameness in our beef cattle and sheep.”

STEPS funding closes on 31 December 2023.