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We've pledged to plant 1.3 million trees in our region
We'll enhance the biodiversity of 5,000 hectares of land by 2027
We will improve 2100km of waterways by 2025
Our environmental responsibility
As a major landowner, our activities can have a substantial impact on the habitats in our region. We have a significant role to play in protecting and creating a more sustainable environment.
Our environmental policy sets out how we will make improvements to biodiversity in our region.
We’re using our expertise and investment to make our region a better place, our lasting legacy will always be to leave places in a better condition than when we found them.
As a company, many of our everyday activities have an impact on the environment, so we have a massive opportunity to make a positive difference to the biodiversity in our region.
Minimizing any negative impacts we have on the environment will also help build resilience into our ecosystems to sustain them for future generations.
We have set a bold new ambition to improve the biodiversity of 5,000 hectares of habitat by 2027 – a commitment we’re calling our Great Big Nature Boost.
Importantly,we’re no longer confining our efforts to land designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (‘SSSI’), but will work with partners to make a much bigger contribution across the region.
We’re also creating a dedicated in-house ecology and biodiversity team to manage risks and maximise biodiversity opportunities.
We will deliver our commitment by:
- changing how we manage our own land.
- working with partners to improve biodiversity on third party land.
- working with farmers to change their approaches.
- offering grants to NGOs, schools, councils and community groups.
These activities can take place on Severn Trent owned land, Sites of Special Scientific Interest that we own, and land owned by third parties.
All improvements to Sites of Special Scientific Interest are independently checked and verified by Natural England. Other enhancement measures will be checked and verified by either a Wildlife Trust, Natural England or another recognised environmental organisation.
By 2030 we will plant 1.3 million trees, supporting our triple carbon pledgeand we have committed to a 15% Biodiversity net gain across all capital programmes that require a Preliminary Ecology Appraisal (PEA).
Our environmental goals, pledges and achievements
We’re always striving to improve the environment and our impact on it. Here’s a few of the things we’ve been doing recently.
- Working with partners including Woodland Trust to plant 1.3 million trees by 2030 to help improve the environment, reduce future flooding and improve water quality, which will also help keep bills low
- We have a pot of £200,000 to help fund biodiversity projects in our region.
Our approach to protecting and promoting biodiversity
Our research has shown that our customers support an increase in biodiversity enhancement activity, so we’ve created a Biodiversity Outcome Delivery Incentive as part of our 2020 to 2025 business plan.
This gives us the opportunity to consult with key stakeholders and develop strategic partnerships, like the relationships we already have with organisations such as Natural England, show environmental leadership and innovate in the way we protect and enhance biodiversity.
We have commissioned local Wildlife and Rivers Truststo undertake biodiversity audits on over 60 of our sites, identified assites with good opportunities for biodiversity improvements, including our visitor experience sites.
The audits record the presence of Natural Environment Research Council section 41 species, invasive non native species and pollinator habitats.
Using the audits findings, site specific biodiversity action plans will be implemented between 2020 to 2025.
Our environmental projects
Woodland creation, enhancement and management
We’ve made the commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030.
To help build our resilience against climate change and improve biodiversity we are striving to plant trees and manage mature woodland in a sustainable way.
We’re in the process of building a partnership with the Woodland Trust, and we’re looking to work in collaboration with other conservation and wildlife organisations to help us achieve this.
Moors for the Future
We are key partners in the Moors for the Future partnership, enhancing moorland in the Peak District to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and reduce the risk of fires. By 2025 this partnership will have improved biodiversity in over 600 hectares of moorland in our region.
Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme
We have added a number of biodiversity enhancement options to the Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme, which is part of our catchment management programme. This will give farmers in our region the opportunity to apply for funding to help with projects including tree and hedge planting, as well as enhancing habitats for wildlife, these projects can help create natural solutions to flood management and improve soil quality. Other options include, meadow growing and pollinator enhancement.
Boost for Biodiversity Fund
Our Boost for Biodiversity Fund, which helps to improve biodiversity across our region, remains open to schools, community groups, non-governmental organisations and farmers. We’ve been able to support projects such as improving existing wetlands, protecting native crayfish species and natural flood management schemes. The fund has helped launch many successful projects across our region, each making a positive impact on the environment.
All Severn Trent staff have the opportunity to make a positive difference for biodiversity in our region through our corporate volunteering project, the Community Champions scheme.
Each year our teams take part in conservation projects all over our region, like our work at Wolston Waste Water Treatment Site in Warwickshire.
We’ve identified spare land on our Wolston Waste Water Treatment Site, which would be ideal for providing links between an adjacent Wildlife Trust restoration project and the existing Site of Special Scientific Interest at Brandon Marsh.
Regulatory considerations for biodiversity
Section 40 of the Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act places a duty to conserve biodiversity on public authorities in England. That means we have a duty to conserve biodiversity as part of our policy or decision making.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in August 2011, Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services provides a comprehensive picture of how to implement the country’s international commitments.
It sets out the strategic direction for biodiversity policy for the decade to 2020 on land, in lakes, rivers and at sea.
Through our own biodiversity strategy, we support DEFRA’s mission “to halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people.”
We work with landowners to reduce pollution of the water cycle through agriculture.
The Water Framework Directive
Through catchment management, supply outages due to water quality issues can be reduced. This can also help to deliver Water Framework Directive benefits water framework directive is a European Commission directive that has set an objective to bring every river up to good ecological status by 2027. Catchment management activities can help to achieve this by improving the quality of surface water run off that rivers receive.
Saving money and protecting the environment
Catchment management schemes provide cost saving solutions to water quality risks and help to protect the environment.
They can provide a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly way of addressing issues and changing behaviours at source, rather than relying on unsustainable, expensive solutions during the water treatment process.
For every £1 we invest in catchment management we gain £4 in wider environmental benefit, and save between £2 and £20 in water treatment costs for removing pesticides, helping to reduce our customers’ bills.
Through extensive risk mapping, catchment walkovers and data analysis, we have identified areas where water quality is especially sensitive to how the land and crops are managed. We refer to these as our priority catchments.
Priority catchments provide a focus for our support, each with an expert agricultural advisor to build relationships with farmers and provide guidance on how to bring maximum benefit to the environment and farm.
We’re currently working in 44 priority catchments –14 surface water catchments and 30 groundwater catchments.
Farming for Water
Farming for Water is our programme of schemes and grants that have been developed for farmers, land owners and estate managers.
It provides a comprehensive framework that enables us to reduce the amount of pesticides found in untreated water across our region.
We do this by treating every catchment and farmer we work with individually, and our dedicated team work hard to develop a unique approach for each one.
We’ve developed a range of tools which take account of the different pressures on water quality, and differing land management techniques, which help us to deliver clean water in the most sustainable way possible.
Farming for Water showcases everything to we have to offer that can help the agricultural community deliver great water stewardship.
Farm to Tap
Beginning in September 2016, Farm to Tap runs annually between September and December.
This scheme pays farmers for producing clean run-off from their land. By producing clean run off, they contribute to improvements in drinking water quality, within their local catchments.
The scheme encompasses the principles of Paid Ecosystem Services with the overall aim of raising awareness of water quality issues
We believe that this approach will help drive long lasting behavioural change and improvements in water quality.
Severn Trent’s Environment Protection Scheme, or STEPS
Severn Trent’s Environment Protection Scheme offers an annual opportunity for farmers and land managers to make significant improvements to their land management and infrastructure through a match funded grant.
The grant fund offers financial and technical support, to both land owners and tenants.
They can invest that funding in tailored solutions to help tackle water pollution through changing practices, or improving and enhancing infrastructure.
Innovating to improve water quality
Not all of our catchment work is just about drinking water quality, we’re also exploring how our work with farmers might benefit catchments impacted by waste water activities. We’ve been trialling two innovative approaches to tackling these issues
Phosphate socks are large tubular mesh structures, filled with different ‘sorbing’ materials, used to reduce run off, entrained sediments and nutrients.
Commonly used in the United States of America to control sediments from construction sites, we’ve been trialling them on agricultural land to reduce levels of phosphate entering watercourses, with the aim to improve water quality
In Nottinghamshire we’re investigating the benefits of under sowing a commercial maize crop with a range of different cover crops to mitigate diffuse pollution to ground and surface waters.
Diffuse pollution is the release of potential pollutants from a range of activities that on their own might be innocuous, but when combined over a whole catchment area, could have a more damaging effect.
We try to mitigate the effects of diffuse pollution through run-off from areas that include:
- farming processes
- forestry activities
- management of green spaces
- roads and homes
- landscape development
- commercial and industrial activity
The soils in Nottinghamshire are sandy, which decreases the water holding capacity of soil. This increases the risk of nitrate being lost to waterbodies, which can lead to a reduction in water quality.
Crops like maize provide ground cover for wildlife, reduce soil erosion and absorb residual nutrients in the soil once harvested.