Terms and conditions for Boost for Biodiversity

The terms and conditions for the 2024 Boost for Biodiversity scheme.

Introduction

Severn Trent has prepared this document to ensure that all applicants to the Boost for Biodiversity Fund are aware of the requirements and conditions attached to the payments concerned, and to help in completing applications for Boost for Biodiversity Fund.

Applicants to the fund accept that they are familiar with the Terms and Conditions outlined in this document and will comply with them. 

Should applicants have any queries in relation to their application please contact our Biodiversity and Ecology Team, you can email them:  EcologyMatters@severntrent.co.uk before submitting an application. 

If there are any changes to these Terms and Conditions, they will be published on the Severn Trent website and available for download. 

  • Our Boost for Biodiversity grant window opens on 9am on February 27th, 2024, we will accept applications from this date.
  • Grants will only be available to anyone within the Severn Trent region (see map in Appendix 1, a pdf version can also be found on our Boost for Biodiversity webpage). If there is any uncertainty eligibility of this criteria can be established by the ecology and biodiversity team. 
  • All projects must be designed to create or long-term enhancement of habitats. 
  • Projects should improve 0.5-30ha of habitats.  
  • All projects must include a management plan for a minimum of 5 years. 
  • Areas of habitat creation/ improvement funded through the Boost for biodiversity scheme may not be sold for BNG purposes until after April 30th 2025. 
  • Individual applicants can submit up to 3 different project proposals. 
  • For linear features such as hedgerows and rivers we are using the conversion 1km=1Ha 
  • A scoring system (see section 11.0) has been devised to ensure that funding will go to projects that demonstrate a clear biodiversity improvement and value for money. Not all applications will be successful. 
  • Applications will close at 9am on March 25th, 2024. 
  • All work must comply with relevant environmental legislation and have the appropriate planning permissions. 
  • We will not be able to fund areas that have previously received Biodiversity funding from Severn Trent.  
  • All work must comply with the relevant health and safety legislation, please visit the HSE website for further information
  • A clear map outlining the boundary of where the improvement will take place and a photo of the project area must be submitted with the application for the application to be scored. 
  • The latest annual completion date permissible is 18th March 2025, projects must include their completion date in the application. 
  • Any queries should be sent to ecologymatters@severntent.co.uk.
  • Improve, enhance and protect biodiversity. 
  • Support development of multi-benefit projects. 
  • Promote partnership working on a catchment scale, within the Severn Trent region only. 
  • Grants will be available to anyone* undertaking biodiversity improvement works taking place within the Severn Trent region (Appendix 1) *Individual farms must apply as part of a farm group/network or with a neighbour to demonstrate a landscape scale approach
  • All projects must be designed to create or enhance habitats.
  • All projects must include a management plan for a minimum of 5 years. 
  • The main applicant must be over eighteen years old or over on the date you submit your application. 
  • Severn Trent cannot fund projects which are already under an existing grant or stewardship scheme for the same type of habitat works. 
  • Projects must cover an area greater than 0.5ha and smaller than 30ha, the area can be split between several parcels of land. 
  • You are not able to apply if you are receiving other funding for the same interventions – e.g. CCS payments, STEPS funding from Severn Trent ect. 
  • Applicants will be required to:
    • Fully complete the application form 
    • Submit a map and photos (please see guidance on photos in section 5) of the area to be improved 
  • Members of Severn Trent’s Biodiversity and Ecology Team will be available for advice with the application process but will not be responsible for the submission of the application form.
  • A scoring system has been devised to ensure that funding will go to projects that demonstrate a clear biodiversity improvement. Not all applications will be successful, the scoring criteria can be found in section 11.0. 
  • Applications will open at 9am on February 27th 2024. 
  • Applications will close at 9am March 25th 2024.   
  • All applicants will be contacted regarding the success of their application by May 10th 2024.
  • Not all applications will be successful, Severn Trent may reject applications if they are not likely to present a significant benefit to biodiversity. 
  • The submission of a valid application does not guarantee funding will be received for your project. 
  • Successful applicants will be notified of their success and will receive further detail on how they can gain extra funding for the expansion of their project where applicable. 
  • A maximum of three projects may be entered by any one applicant. 
  • It is the responsibility of the applicant to familiarise themselves with these Terms and Conditions. 
  • Include a map and photos (please see guidance on photos in section 5) illustrating the project area when submitting your application. 
  • Make sure that the area of land to be improved hasn’t received biodiversity funding from Severn Trent previously. 
  • Planning permission may be required depending on the project chosen. Consult your local planning authority or National Park authority to seek informal advice. 
  • Any capital items you install must comply with the relevant British Standards (BS). 
  • The habitat created or enhanced through this fund must be maintained for at least 5 years, the management plan for the maintenance of the project must be included within the proposal. 
  • All works must comply with relevant environmental legislation associated with the project.  
  • The Forestry Commission England Environmental Impact Assessment Checklist must be consulted for all woodland creation projects, all subsequent required actions must be undertaken before the project can begin. The EIA checklist can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/forestry-project-checks-all-projects
  • Hedgerow placement and tree planting must be considered in context with the wider ecological environment- advice can be given on this where needed. 
  • If your work affects any of the categories below, you will need consent from the Environment Agency or from the relevant authority, it is the applicant's responsibility to check if the project affects any of the following; 
    • National Park 
    • Listed Building 
    • Scheduled Monument 
    • Protected Species 
    • National Nature Reserve 
    • Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
    • Registered Parkland 
    • Local Nature Reserves 
    • Registered Battlefields 
    • AONB
  • Any work carried out in river or within 6m a riverbank, or designated flood plain may require flood defence consent. Depending on the size of watercourse you should consult the Environment Agency (Tel: 03708506506 or email enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk) in relation to main river, otherwise the local drainage officer within the local authority. 
  • Once offered a grant, applicants can’t change their capital works, or amend their agreement without prior consent from Severn Trent. 
  • Fixed point before and after photos of the project site should be taken, the number of photos needed is as follows:
    • <2ha – at least 1 set of fixed point before and after photos.
    • 2ha-10ha – at least 1 set of fixed point before and after photos per 2ha e.g. 10ha project would need at least 5 sets of fixed point before and after photos.
    • 10-30ha – at least 1 set of fixed point before and after photos per 2ha up to 10ha and at least 1 set of fixed point before and after photos per 5ha over 10ha e.g. 25ha project would need at least 8 sets of fixed point before and after photos.
  • Projects should be completed by 18th March 2025.
  • The number of hectares of improvement quoted on the application form should be the area of habitat improvement, rather than the wider area impacted. For example:
    • Wildflower meadows – the hectares of meadow created.
    • Tree planting or management – the hectares of new land/existing woodland that the trees are planted on or managed
    • Ponds – hectare area of the pond
    • INNS removal along riverbank – km of riverbank worked on
    • Litter picking - km of riverbank worked on
    • Fish pass/barrier removal – km of river unlocked for fish passage
    • River restoration – km of river worked on
    • The exception to this is for features such as bare ground scrapes or wetland scrapes – the hectares  of land they are created on (rather than the area of each individual scrape)
    • Habitat boxes – unfortunately, we cannot count an area improved from the installation of habitat boxes e.g. bird boxes, insect hotels etc.
  • Applicants agree that ST may publish details and photos (omitting all personal data) of their project as case studies both internally and externally. 
  • Applicants may be required to partake in engagement for the ‘Boost for Biodiversity’ scheme, including; site visits, photographs/videos and written or verbal interviews.
  • Applicants are responsible for crediting Severn Trent in any written publications regarding works funded through Severn Trent. 
  • Any signage on site relating to working funded by Severn Trent must appropriately credit the funder. 
  • Assess applications in an unbiased manner using the specified scoring system.  
  • Provide application advice through the Biodiversity and Ecology Team. 
  • Respond to queries within 7 working days via our Biodiversity and Ecology Team. 
  • Keep all project and financial information confidential, this does not however affect our duty to report any breaches in cross compliance to Environment Agency. 
  • Contracts are non-transferable except in the case of: 
    • Certified serious illness of applicant.
    • Death of the applicant.
    • Long term professional incapacity of the participant.
  • You must inform ST of any change to a selected project and a written reason displaying your actions, you will then receive a letter of approval. 
  • You will not be entitled to funds to meet the costs of any maintenance or normal wear and tear. Maintenance costs however can be built into your initial application. 
  • Should you be unable to maintain the project until agreed date for any reason, you must inform Severn Trent by emailing ecologymatters@severntrent.co.uk
  • Random project audits will be completed annually for any project completed that year, or to check on the maintenance of the project throughout the duration of the maintenance period agreed. 
  • Payment will be split 50-50. The first 50% of the funding will be paid following the receipt of the applicants signed agreement, the final 50% of the funding will only be paid on completion of the project and receipt of a completion report (a template will be provided to successful applicants). 
  • Final payments shall all be processed and made on March 15th of the completion year, providing the conditions for the second payment have been met. 
  • Applicants accept that on-the-spot inspections may be required before final payment can be authorised. 
  • Where maintenance has not been upheld, ST may recuperate costs associated to the maintenance of the project. 
  • Where an applicant is unable to continue within the project commitment(s) due to reasons beyond his/her control, a case may be made under force majeure. The following categories of force majeure will be recognised: 
    • Death of the participant (individual only)
    • Long term professional incapacity of the participant (individual only)
    • A natural disaster affecting the project area
    • The accidental destruction of the project area e.g. destruction of property via a fire 
    • An outbreak of disease affecting all or part of the inhabitants in the project area 
    • The disposal or vacation of land to satisfy a court order or legal settlement in cases of marital breakdown
  • This may result in the non-payment or recovery of some or the entire grant payable or already paid and will be blocked from ever receiving future funding. Note that applicants are responsible for the work carried out (even if work was contracted to an external contractor). 

The following are classed as breaches of agreement: 

  • Refusal to allow Severn Trent’s Biodiversity and Ecology Team members access to the project area for inspection on reasonable notice. 
  • Providing false or misleading information 
  • Lack of project photos and report 
  • Failure to comply with the appropriate standards, planning rules and agricultural codes of practice
  • Failure to maintain the project benefits until the agreed date. 
  • Missed deadlines without prior consent and variation agreement from ST  
  • Area (or length) of biodiversity improvement.
  • Number and quality of wider project benefits (e.g. community engagement, natural flood management, species specific benefits, water quality, raising of environmental awareness).
  • Value for money (project benefits against cost).
  • SSSI improvement to help reach unfavourable recovering or favourable status.

Appendix

Appendix 1