Severn Trent has launched a new “cash for catchments” scheme that is offering funding to landowners and farmers with “game-changing” ideas to improve the water environment.
The company is inviting landowners, farmers, community groups and non-governmental organisations to submit ideas that would bring environmental benefits across the Midlands and mid-Wales.
The scheme is unusual in that it is leaving it to land managers to come up with the ideas that they think would make the most difference.
Unusually, Severn Trent has also sought funding for the initiative from other private businesses.
It has invited private companies to get involved as a “partner” to allow them to achieve their corporate responsibility goals.
Companies have been asked to commit a minimum donation of £10,000, which Severn Trent will add to, in order to ensure there is at least £100,00 available for all shortlisted projects.
The initiative could show Defra secretary Michael Gove’s plans for farmers to be paid for providing services that protect and enhance “natural capital” could work in practice.
The scheme is particularly focused on projects that would help to preserve the region’s biodiversity, control invasive non-native species, provide natural flood management, restore rivers and improve river water quality.
The first stage of the application process is for farmers to submit their project ideas, along with details of the expected benefits and an estimated project cost.
The best projects will be shortlisted and the successful applicants will be invited to present their project to a Dragons’ Den-style panel.
Zara Turtle, who is leading the scheme for Severn Trent, explains: “We hope that the best of the ideas will be real game-changers that can have a massive positive effect on the water environment right across our region.
“We’re really excited that the window for ideas is now open and we’re looking forward to reviewing some really innovative projects that we can collaborate on in the future.”
The closing date for submissions is 5pm on 30 May.