Severn Trent has once again opened its popular Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS). The scheme offers a range of options for farmers to choose from to improve water quality and biodiversity across the region. Grants of up to £5000 per year are available for options targeting water quality and include, for example, watercourse fencing, buffer strips, livestock troughs, roofing, rainwater goods and pesticide handling areas. There is also the ability to spread grant funding over 2 years (up to £10,000) for pesticide handling areas.
This year, the scheme has grown to include some new options to target biodiversity, these are excluded from the £5000 limit and include hedgerow and woodland planting, pond management and wildflower meadow creation. These options are only available to farmers who apply for water quality options and cannot be applied for on their own.
There are also Farmer Innovation grants available up to a maximum of £5000, which can be tailored to your individual farm for funding towards precision farming equipment, separation of clean and dirty water and other types of innovation that may benefit and improve habitats and biodiversity.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible for funding you must be within the priority catchment area and actively farm a minimum of 3 hectares of land.
To find out if you are in the priority catchment area click here
How do I apply?
Applications are submitted online and the closing date for applications is 31st January 2020.
The application process is competitive and applications are prioritised according to the perceived water quality benefit, location of the farm within the catchment area and value for money. Within the application you will need to include information about your farming enterprise including photographs of the current site, explain how the funding will benefit the environment and provide farm maps. Successful applicants will be notified within 6 weeks of the application closing date. After accepting funding, work must be competed and claimed for by March 2021 and you will be subject to a farm inspection by Severn Trent Water within a 5 year period of joining the scheme to ensure that all funded items have been completed and retained as per the application.
The full list of options and further information, including how to contact your local STEPS Agricultural Advisor for advice and help to complete your application, can be found here (click on link to go through to the Severn Trent website)