Natural Course: Sharing challenges and successes with Defra Permanent Secretary

Natural Course meets the Defra Permanent Secretary Tamara Finkelstein to discuss the challenges faced across the North West to improve water quality.

Permanent Secretary impressed by the breakthrough initiatives being delivered by Natural Course and the influence it is having across the Environment Agency.

Since its initiation in 2014, Natural Course has been working to identify the barriers that are preventing rivers across the North West reaching a ‘good’ status under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).  Some barriers are physical, which depending on what and where they are, can be removed.  However we have found that different ways of working, both within and between organisations, can be seen as a barrier to delivering improvements to the water environment.

One of our projects addressing this issue is CLIMB (Challenging Links and Integrating Multiple Benefits), an award winning initiative led by the Environment Agency.  CLIMB is integrating different project teams within the organisation, and delivering with partners – meaning that work schemes deliver multiple benefits which are also better value for money.

As part of a recent visit to the Environment Agency’s Warrington office, Tamara Finkelstein (Defra Permanent Secretary) met with Dave Marshall, Natural Course’s Programme Manager.  They took this opportunity to talk about the challenges we are facing in trying to improve our water quality, and also discussed how we can share the successes from projects, like CLIMB, so others can replicate our results.

Dave Marshall, Natural Course Programme Manager said…

It was a great opportunity to talk to Tamara and explain that only 17% of our water bodies in the NW are at or above good status – and that falls to only 3% for the Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire (GMMC) Area.  As a result, in GMMC we have a huge challenge on our hands to improve, rather than just protect our water environment.”

 “It is only through collaborative work with key partners, aligning priorities and pooling resources that we can make these improvements – and the Natural Course LIFE IP project helps create capacity in each of the partner organisations to identify the main barriers to achieving ‘good’ Water Framework Directive status across the North West.”

Tamara Finkelstein, Defra Permanent Secretary said…

 “CLIMB is a brilliant initiative – and a great example of wider collaborative working. It’s critical to integrate with our Defra relatives and work better together with all our partners too – it’s really important to drive this forward.”