Enhancing our Natural Environment

Our priorities are:

Nature recovery on our own land

Boosting nature beyond our boundaries

Making nature integral to catchment management

We work with thousands of farmers across 432,000 hectares

Lake Vyrnwy

The Lake Vyrnwy estate in Wales is one of our largest sites, with over 10,000 hectares of open moorland, blanket bog, farmland and forest, receiving 200,000 visitors every year.

The land surrounds a 7.6km long reservoir, built in the Victorian era to provide the growing city of Liverpool with water. Today, it brings together a partnership of ourselves, United Utilities - who deliver the water to Liverpool - the RSPB, Natural Resources Wales, and the local community. Our vision is for Lake Vyrnwy to be an exemplar of sustainable water and land management for the benefit of the environment, the local economy, the community and visitors.

Boosting nature beyond our boundaries

Our own land is only part of the picture, and working with nature means working with partners at a whole landscape scale, irrespective of ownership.

Between 2015 and 2020 we improved the biodiversity of 244 hectares of land

In 2020/21 we improved 2,632 hectares for biodiversity

Spotlight: partnerships

We know that no single organisation, or government, will be able to carry the solutions to solving the issues of climate change and the loss of natural habitats alone. We’ve always sought out others to complement and support our aims and ambitions.

That’s why, across all the pillars of our environment strategy, we actively seek out and develop partnerships. We have an exceptional way of working with partner organisations and a solid track record of working in collaboration.

Whether it’s finding partner’s who can complement our skill sets to drive out innovation and better ways of working, to pooling resources to bring technological advances to push boundaries; Or, continuing to build on our legacy of working with some of the most well loved and recognised organisations in the UK.

In building this skill, we can transform our collective impact, by working together we can achieve the scale required to deliver outcomes that are in everyone’s interest.

Boost for Biodiversity: On a Tree by a River project

The Tame Valley Wetlands, the RSBP and West Midlands Bird Club has teamed up to secure £10,431 from the Severn Trent Boost for Biodiversity scheme for the ‘On a Tree by a River’ project. The work aims to increase the population and local range of Willow Tits in the Tame Valley, by creating new habitats and raising community awareness of the species.

“Severn Trent’s support has been fundamental to us bringing Willow Tits, one of the most threatened native bird species in the UK, back from the brink of extinction.”

Ian Wykes, Development Manager at Tame Valley Wetland.

"Serious investment in nature’s recovery is good for wildlife, good for communities and good for business. Working in partnership we have the power to address the climate and ecological emergencies through local action and our collaboration with Severn Trent Water embodies the kind of proactive approach needed to achieve national ambitions to create a flourishing Nature Recovery Network created from the ground up, with everyone playing a part. Together we are making vital progress by improving habitats and supporting threatened species – demonstrating the benefits of industry, farming and conservation working together and we hope that the bold approach taken by Severn Trent Water will encourage and inspire even more local action to deliver real change across the UK.” "
Paul Wilkinson, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive

Making nature integral to catchment management

How agricultural land in our catchments is managed is one of the key determinants of our region’s biodiversity and ecosystem health, not only on land but also underwater.

While sewer overflows and pressure from built-up areas also have an impact on water quality, discharges from agriculture and land management are the single most significant cause of failure to meet the government’s targets for good ecological status in rivers.It is also in our interests as a water company to improve this. We estimate that for every £1 we spend to reduce runoff of phosphates, nitrates and other agricultural chemicals through our catchment management programmes, we avoid £2 - £20 of treatment costs and generate £4 of wider environmental benefits.

That is why our catchment management programme Farming for Water works directly with farmers to deliver a suite of integrated solutions that boost on-farm biodiversity at the same time as reducing agricultural inputs to improve water quality.

Improving 3,700km of rivers - 50% of all our rivers - by the end of 2025

Payment for Ecosystem Services

Our Farm to Tap scheme, launched in 2016, pays farmers to keep pesticides out of watercourses.

This contributes to improvements in drinking water quality and helps us reduce energy, chemicals and further costs in our water treatment process. In 2019/20, Farm to Tap helped to ensure we had no pesticide drinking water quality failures at any of our treatment works.

Looking ahead, the country as a whole faces a significant challenge to meet the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan target of 75% good ecological status in UK rivers as soon as possible - the current figure is just 14%. We plan to be part of this effort by helping farmers to keep nutrients where they are needed - in productive soils rather than washing out into watercourses. Together with our partners in the farming community we have already made great progress, delivering water quality improvements for around 1,600 km of river between 2015 and 2020, and in some of our catchments we estimate we can reduce farming’s contribution to phosphates in watercourses by up to 66%.

But now we are investing to expand Farming for Water further. 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, allowing us to prioritise our actions. In total our ambitious future plans cover 44 catchments and 432,000 hectares. By the end of 2025 this will see us working with over two thirds of all the farmers in our region.

Enhancing our natural environment: our to do list

  • Protect and enhance our ecologically important sites
  • Limit invasive species and safeguard priority species
  • Understand our estate in order to make strategic interventions with multiple benefits
  • Contribute to climate mitigation, catchment management and biodiversity by planting 1.3m trees
  • Improve the biodiversity of 5,000 hectares of land„Cultivate long-term strategic partnerships to restore natural ecosystems
  • Develop our natural capital accounting framework to better quantify and account for the natural capital we are preserving and enhancing
  • Expand our catchment programmes to work with 9,000 farmers (63% of all farmers in our region) and discover and roll out innovative practices to reduce agricultural runoff