One of the UK’s biggest water companies plans to spend £1.2bn to help repair the environment and end its contribution to the climate crisis by 2030.
Severn Trent plans to cut its emissions to virtually zero within the next decade by using 100% renewable energy to power its water pumps and an all-electric fleet of vehicles.
Alongside the “triple carbon pledge”, it will also invest in schemes to improve the biodiversity of 5,000 hectares of land by 2027, and has promised to work with 9,000 farmers to use nature-based methods that reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.
Liv Garfield, the chief executive, said: “By committing to invest £1.2bn in the next five years, we believe we can make a real difference to the environment and people we serve while delivering strong business outcomes.”
The FTSE 100 company outlined the plans at a capital markets day, where it also told investors it would funnel 1% of its annual profits – usually more than £10m a year – to its community fund that supports projects chosen by local communities.
“We firmly believe that businesses with a strong social purpose can deliver better and more sustainable outcomes for all stakeholders over the long term,” Garfield said.
Severn Trent supplies fresh and waste water services for about 8 million people in the Midlands and also a small area in Wales.
Tony Juniper, the chair of Natural England, said the plans would make a “very significant contribution” towards its national Nature Recovery Network, which aims to rebuild Britain’s woodlands and peatlands, and work with farmers to protect species and restore soil quality.
These measures are considered a crucial part of the UK’s climate action because they help to absorb and trap carbon emissions from the atmosphere.
“We hope other major companies will soon come forward with comparable ambition, leading over time to an historic turnaround in the fortunes of our wildlife and natural environment,” Juniper said.
Severn Trent has set out its green commitments after coming under pressure from the industry regulator to make ambitious investments to improve their services without charging their customers more to cover the costs.
It has accepted the regulator’s demands, but other big water companies plan to appeal against the regulator’s decision with the Competition and Markets Authority for the first time since privatisation.