On 1 November 2019 applications for funding through the Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) will re-open.
Dr Adam Freer, Severn Trent catchment management scientist, explains that the main aim of the scheme is to protect water and the environment, but this year there is an added emphasis on preserving and enhancing biodiversity in the region.
“Farmers applying for STEPS can choose from a list of pre-defined funding options to contribute up to £5,000 of match funding towards projects on-farm,” he says.
The new options include hedgerow and woodland planting, pond management plans as well as wildflower meadow creation to name a few. Applicants can also bring their own ideas to life through the farmer innovation options.
“We’ve worked closely with several partners including the Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust to ensure the new options will make a positive impact on the environment, while complementing existing countryside stewardship schemes,” says Freer.
Dr Jodie Rettino, Severn Trent catchment and biodiversity lead, explains that grants have previously helped fund a wide range of projects from cover crops and fencing, to pesticide wash down areas and biofilters, as well as other innovative ideas developed by farmers themselves.
“STEPS has been fundamental to help us protect our water environment, and we’re delighted that applications have been growing annually, with a 23% increase seen for last year’s scheme,” she says.