Protecting our local environment
Protecting our local environment
Our environmental responsibility
As a major land owner, 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 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; and
- 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 pledge and we have committed to a 15% Biodiversity net gain across all capital programmes that require a Preliminary Ecology Appraisal (PEA).
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 Trusts to undertake biodiversity audits on over 60 of our sites, identified as sites 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
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
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.
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