Severn Trent launch Independent Advisory Panel to support drive to transform rivers 

Thursday 2 March 2023

A panel consisting of six independent experts has been formed by Severn Trent to assist the water company in delivering its Get River Positive pledges, with the aim of making the region's rivers the healthiest they can be.

The panel will oversee Severn Trent’s progress against Get River Positive, a series of five commitments, launched in March 2022, to lead the charge in transforming river health across the region.

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO, said: “At Severn Trent we're moving faster and quicker, in some cases 20 years ahead, of sector targets to improve the quality of our region’s rivers. We’ve already made some really significant progress against all five of our Get River Positive commitments, and our newly formed Independent Advisory Panel members, with all the fantastic experience and insight that they bring, are the next step in our commitment to making a positive impact on the communities and the environment where we live and work.

“The panel will play a crucial role in helping oversee our progress against each commitment and ensure we maximise potential for our performance across this campaign, so we’re absolutely delighted to welcome them onboard.”

The Get River Positive Independent Advisory Panel, consists of*:

    Dr Julia Casperd - Lecturer in Lecturer in Wildlife Conservation, Zoology & Environmental Land Management, Harper Adams University and chair of the Harper Adams University Environmental Sustainability Land and Soil Farm Group;

    Matt Easter – CEO, Trent Rivers Trust;

    Sarah Faulkner - Regional Policy Manager, National Farmers Union;

    Ashley Jones – Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Manager, Swim England;

    Joe Pimblett – CEO, Severn Rivers Trust;

    Paul Wilkinson – CEO, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

Independent Advisory Panel chair, Dr Julia Casperd, said: “I’m passionate about protecting our natural environment and the vital ecosystem services that they provide. I am keen to use my experience and skills to support Severn Trent in its commitment to make the region’s rivers the healthiest they can be, whilst also enhancing their biodiversity and mitigating climate change.

“The panel’s priorities are to bring insights from the many areas that depend on rivers, as well as providing the right amount of scrutiny and accountability to Severn Trent’s five Get River Positive pledges.”

Representing Severn Trent will also be Gemma Eagle, Senior Assistant Company Secretary; Gail Pickles, River Protection Lead; and Paul Evans, Community & Education Lead.

As part of its Get River Positive Commitments, the company has committed that its operations will not be the reason for any stretch of river in the region being classified as unhealthy by 2030. Based on data from the Environment Agency, 84% of reasons for rivers in the Severn Trent region not achieving good ecological status are due to other sectors.

In addition to commitments to go further and faster than sector targets, the company has also pledged to remain open and transparent about its performance and plans, which includes collaborating with independent groups to ensure it provides the river quality information people want and need to see and making sure information is easily accessible.


Notes to Editors

*Panel bios below

Julia Casperd - Lecturer in Wildlife Conservation & Environment at Harper Adams University
A Zoology graduate from the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Dundee, Julia completed a PhD at UCL and University of Liverpool, which explored the evolution of post-conflict strategies in the Primate order. In 2020, Julia took up a lectureship in Wildlife Conservation with University Centre Reaseheath where she was also involved in various committees including ‘Field to Fork’ and the Energy and Water Sustainability Group. Currently a lecturer (and Zoology Course Tutor) at Harper Adams University. Julia chairs the HAU Environmental Sustainability Land and Soil group which promotes environmental sustainability and related research across the campus and Future Farm, in conjunction with the Harper Adams University School of Sustainable Food and Farming.

Matt Easter – CEO, Trent Rivers Trust
Matt has been the CEO of Trent Rivers Trust for two and a half years, and currently leads and directs the activities of The Trust, working with their expanding team and partners to restore rivers, improve habitats and water quality and engage people about the value of the River Trent and its tributaries. Prior to this Matt was a regional director for the charity Sustrans for 10 years and has worked in the broader environmental sector for over 25 years, both with environmental charities and local authorities. Trent Rivers Trust is currently working with Severn Trent in a number of ways, for example on river restoration projects and landowner engagement regarding pollution control and is keen to support the delivery and monitoring of progress against Severn Trent's river pledges. 

Sarah Faulkner - NFU Regional Policy Manager (West Midlands and East Midlands)
Sarah was the NFU West Midlands environment and rural affairs adviser for more than 15 years and was brought into the new position at a time of unprecedented change, challenge and opportunity for the union and its members.A chartered surveyor and chartered environmentalist, she drives the union’s policy work forward in both the West and East Midlands to benefit members’ businesses. Sarah previously worked for the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, FWAG, and Powys County Council. Professional skills extend to practical on-farm management advice and environmental management in industry.

Ashley Jones – Swim England Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Manager
Ashley is the Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Manager for Swim England - the national governing body for swimming in England. Their mission is to ensure everyone has the skills and knowledge to safely participate in their chosen activity in, on and around the water.  Ashley participates in a wide variety of water sports as well as continuing to volunteer as a beach lifeguard with his local surf life saving club. He believes improved access to safe, clean blue spaces is vital to reduce fatal accidental drownings while improving the health and well-being of the nation.

Joe Pimblett - CEO, Severn Rivers Trust
Joe has worked within the environmental sector for over a decade, spending most of that time with his local Wildlife Trust, where he started his employment as a project trainee. Over the ensuing years, Joe worked in numerous roles, covering the full spectrum of environmental delivery. During the latter half of his employment with the Wildlife Trust, he was responsible for managing the Trust’s operations in East Cheshire and the Southwest Peak District. This included overseeing a multi-faceted team delivering a host of projects, from urban-based tree planting schemes to landscape scale water management and habitat creation initiatives. Joe took up the position of CEO at Severn Rivers Trust back in August 2021.

Paul Wilkinson - CEO, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
Paul joined the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust as CEO in January 2019, after 10 years working in the UK Office of The Wildlife Trusts, where he led on national policy issues such as farming, planning and water, the landscape scale conservation vision of Living Landscapes, and most recently on national strategic relationships with businesses and key funders. He has also worked for the Wildlife Trusts in the East of England on regional policy issues, and with Norfolk County Council and a small environmental education charity.