Funding scheme opens for growers and land managers

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Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS)

THE latest round of the Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) in the UK is now open for applications. These can be made be made all year round and close on January 31st, 2023. 

Familiar to many farms, land agents and estate owners across the region, STEPS is part of Severn Trent’s Farming 4 Water catchment management programme. It helps the region protect its local environment, local water courses and improve farm infrastructure and river health. 

How the grant scheme works 

The scheme offers farmers and land managers (both owners and tenants), financial and technical support to invest in tailored solutions to help tackle diffuse water pollution, and to protect and maintain biodiversity and the natural environment. Over 2000 grants have been awarded to farms across the region, with projects ranging from pesticide washdown areas, to cover crops and biofilters. 

What has changed from previous years? 
  • Grant rates have increased for many of the items.  
  • There are still a great range of options to choose from, all aimed at protecting the environment and water quality. 
  • There are still specific priority items; items that once implemented will make a fundamental difference to the health of the surrounding water environment. 
  • Once an application is made, Severn Trent will endeavour to confirm if an application has been successful within 6 weeks of submission. 
  • Farmers will have a year to complete the work, from the date they are issued with an agreement. 
  • The grant value has increased to £10,000.

On top of increasing grants for priority items in 2022, there are also some additional packages of items available to maximise the benefit to both a business and the environment. 

  • Pesticide washdown area offer. 
  • Cover crops in groundwater nitrate catchments. 
  • Cryptosporidium priority fencing offer. 

For further information on the 2022 STEPS scheme and details on how to apply, visit: Severn Trent's Environmental Protection Schemes | Farming for water | Working with farmers and land managers | Environment | About Us | Severn Trent Water (stwater.co.uk)

The scheme handbook can be viewed at https://www.stwater.co.uk/content/dam/stw/about_us/steps/steps-handbook.pdf

Trees for Water  

As part of their Regenerative Pathway Package, Severn Trent are also offering Trees for Water which is a new tree planting scheme. This new offering for 2022 will incorporate the principles of the Commonwealth Forest Creation to fully fund trees and planting, as well as 10 years of maintenance. This will include options for agroforestry and riparian planting along riverbanks. Bonus payments of £200/ha will be awarded to farmers with planting sites of over 8ha or km. 

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This offer will help support farmers in meeting the government’s new environmental targets and future regulations linking to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes. 

Key benefits of this scheme: 

  • Helps farmers to meet new regulatory requirement.
  • Doesn’t take good agricultural graded land out of food production. 
  • Supports with Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) baselining (they keep the BNG credits). 
  • Offers complete funding, supply, and maintenance for 35 years.  

As with STEPS, this scheme is simple and quick to navigate, with Severn Trent offering the following: 

  • Supply the trees and sundries. 
  • Design and plan the forest. 
  • Will undertake the Environmental Impact Assessment process – production of documents and liaison with Forestry Commission. 
  • Utilise access to volunteer army (including risk assessments and supervision) to help with planting. 
  • For sites over 20 acres they will offer a premium £200 per ha maintenance grant (for 10 years). 
  • Provide 35 years of maintenance and support package including replacement trees etc. 
  • Register the carbon credits and undertake the validation process. 
  • Carbon credits to revert to landowner after 35 years.

Find out more here.

Source: cxcs