Shropshire Star

Biodiversity funding available for farmers in the Midlands

Applications are open for this year’s round of Severn Trent’s Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) match funding.

FasTran 850 CTS

The scheme offers up to £30,000 for farms in priority catchments to invest in projects that improve water quality.

Since its inception, over 2,000 STEPS grants have been awarded, and over the course of 2023 the aim is to continue to partner with more farmers and landowners across Severn Trent’s 48 priority catchments.

To broaden the outreach of STEPS, this year match funding is available for Closed Transfer Systems (CTS), which enable fast, clean and safe chemical transfer to and from sprayers.

Severn Trent said CTS are a great alternative for pesticide management, particularly if farm enterprises can’t accommodate a full-size pesticide wash down area.

A range of biodiversity funding is also now available, under the remit of ‘Spring STEPS’. This extra component of STEPS focuses on helping to improve biodiversity and protect natural habitats. With a shorter application window, Spring STEPS funding can be applied for until October 31, with the main STEPS window closing on December 31. Dr Alex Cooke, principal catchment management scientist at Severn Trent, explained both elements of the STEPS scheme provide flexible funding for a wide range of on-farm environmental projects.

“The main STEPS match funding is available to those in priority catchments to address issues such as nitrates, pesticides and cryptosporidium reaching watercourses and help to keep our rivers healthy,” said Dr Cooke.

She added that farmers can choose from an array of funded options, but to ensure applications are competitive she would strongly recommend choosing a priority item, specific for the catchment. For example, this could include the new closed transfer system, pesticide washdown areas, cover crops or livestock fencing.

“‘Farmer innovation’ options are also available,” says Dr Cooke. “In instances where the main STEPS options aren’t appropriate for your farming business, these options allow farms to suggest an alternative way to help protect water quality and the environment, that benefits the individual enterprise,” she explains.

“Spring STEPS works in a similar format to the wider grant programme but offers funding options specifically for biodiversity projects. These include diverse herbal leys, wildflower margins, pollinator meadows and birdseed,” Dr Cooke explains.

She encouraged farmers and landowners to visit the Severn Trent website at for more details or contact their local agricultural adviser to investigate their options and eligibility.

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