Severn Trent to issue grants of up to £5,000 for farmers

Severn Trent's STEPS grant is now open for farmers in the Midlands to apply
Severn Trent's STEPS grant is now open for farmers in the Midlands to apply

Farmers in the Midlands could receive up to £5,000 of match funding to help protect water and the environment as part of a scheme by Severn Trent.

The water firm's Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) is open for applications until 31 January 2021.

The company has pinpointed key issues of concern in each of its 44 priority catchments.

It is now encouraging farmers to choose funded options that prevent pesticides, nitrates or cryptosporidium reaching water.

Dr Adam Freer, senior catchment management scientist at Severn Trent, said farmers can choose from an array of funded items.

"To ensure your application is competitive, we’d strongly recommend choosing a priority item for your specific area.

"These could include a pesticide washdown area, cover crops or livestock fencing, to name a few.

“Applicants will also have the chance to come up with their own innovative ideas to tackle these key issues through the farmer innovation option.”

One mixed farmer who has previously benefited from STEPS is Leamington based Robin Davies, who received funding to help install over 1,100m of livestock fencing and gates.

“We used a contractor to put in fencing 1.5m either side of two hedged ditches that carry water from the Leam and Itchen rivers," he said.

"This not only helps keep the flock of 200 North Country Mules safe from the ditches, but also protects against bacteria and nitrates from the sheep entering the watercourse."

As a result of this, Mr Davies has been inspired to plant trees inside the fence line to create habitats for other species to inhabit while improving shelter for the sheep.

He added: “We farm in a traditional manner, and conservation is close to our hearts. We don’t use any fertiliser and keep sprays to a minimum, that works well for both us and the local environment.

“The arable reversion to pasture should help to improve soil fertility and microbial activity for future crops but will also benefit the sheep by providing a ‘clean’ un-grazed pasture.”

How do I apply to the scheme?

Severn Trent has issued tips for farmers who wish to apply:

• Find out if you’re eligible using the priority catchment map

• Speak to your local agricultural adviser to find out what the priority issue and funding options are in your catchment

• Visit to fill out your application

• Focus your application on priority items for the best chance of being accepted

• If you hope to apply for a biodiversity option in our spring round of STEPS, ensure you apply for, or have historically received funding for, a priority item