Shropshire Star

Final call to Shropshire farmers for infrastructure project funding

Severn Trent is issuing a final call for all major infrastructure grant applications as the funding window closes on May 31.

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Through STEPS – Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme – farmers in pesticide priority catchments, can apply for up to £20,000 of match funding to invest in sprayer washdown and handling areas.

A further £5,000 is available for those adding rainwater harvesting equipment to the roofed area.

Dr Adam Freer, senior catchment scientist at Severn Trent, said if projects are completed within six months, a further 25 per cent of the cost of the washdown area is available, up to a maximum of £30,000.

A handling and washdown area provides a dedicated space where pesticides can be safely loaded into the tank, and acts as a safe area for housing and cleaning the sprayer.

“We’ve identified pesticides as one of three key concerns in our priority catchments, so we’re urging farmers to pursue funded options that prevent them reaching watercourses, as well as nitrates or cryptosporidium,” he said.

Severn Trent has found 40 per cent of pesticide detections in watercourses are from handling in the yard, with the remaining 60 per cent coming from the field.

This is why the company is supporting efforts to install or improve sprayer washdown areas, as an effective way of eliminating pollution risk.

The application deadline for other STEPS funding options remains open until November 30, 2024 and is available to all types of farms, for a wide range of 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,” added Dr Freer.

One farmer who has taken advantage of the PWDA funding is farmer Alastair Hunter Blair.

With the farm running along the River Wye, pesticide management is a major consideration.

He said: “We do what we can to prevent runoff entering the river. Although our spray and nutrient applications and management are well within legal requirements, we know there’s always more we can do to protect water quality.”

After initial conversations with his local Severn Trent agricultural advisor, Mr Hunter Blair learned the farm sat in a pesticide priority area. His advisor, Robin Ransome, supported him with an application to replace a dilapidated barn with a new PWDA, as well as a 10,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank.

Mr Hunter Blair said: “Regulations are getting tighter around plant protection products used on-farm, so when the STEPS opportunity arose it was clear we could get ahead of the curve.”

To find out more about STEPS funding, visit

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