Project update: Innovative funding for Wyre natural flood management interventions

Virtual launch of Wyre Natural Flood Management Investment Readiness project attended by Environment Agency Chair

Partnership project to enhance the local environment and protect against flood risk


Natural flood management interventions can give multiple benefits to the environment, however funding is often limited in this area.  New and innovative funding streams are therefore required, but an evidence base is needed to be able to engage with investors to develop these investments.

During Phases 1 and 2 of Natural Course, a report identified potential natural flood management interventions in the Wyre.  Extra resource has been provided to utilise the reports to attract additional funding, and to support in the development and implementation of the proposals.

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Complementary funded by Natural Course, the Wyre Natural Flood Management Investment Readiness Project held a virtual launch on Monday 26 October, and was attended by key partners and stakeholders, including Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd.  Organised as a virtual event due to current government restrictions in the North West, the launch for key partners included a virtual tour of the project sites to demonstrate some of the works being planned, and was an opportunity to update on the progress and future of the project.

Delivered by The Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, Wyre Rivers Trust, United Utilities, Triodos Bank, Co-op Insurance and FloodRE, with funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the project was one of the first schemes to receive grant funding to encourage sustainable private sector investment for the benefit of the local community and the environment.

The use of natural flood management, including the building of leaky dams, the creation of bog, and the rewetting of peat, on 70 hectares of the River Wyre catchment is aimed at reducing the frequency of flooding for a large number of properties in Churchtown, Lancashire.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“The scale of the future environmental challenges means we must collaborate with partners and collectively take responsibility for protecting, improving and valuing our shared environment.

“We hope that the Wyre NFM project demonstrates the commercial viability of such projects to the investment community. We will then work with others in the finance sector to catalyse the scaling up of further similar projects both in the UK and around the world.”

Dan Turner, Project Manager at The Rivers Trust and Natural Course Collaborative Team Member, said:

“Upfront capital investment is one of the major barriers preventing the uptake of Natural Flood Management. The Rivers Trust hopes that this ground breaking project will help to provide a mechanism to finance and implement nature based solutions at the scale and pace which is desperately required”.

Andy Brown, Flood Risk Manager at the Environment Agency, added:

“We’re as committed as ever to protecting and enhancing our environment, but if we are going to become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, we must do more to improve and protect the environment by being ambitious and working in bigger partnerships for maximum impact. We all need to value and protect the environment, and the Environment Agency has a duty to lead the way by attracting more investment into green projects.”

The project funding is allowing the project partners to develop a financial instrument that would allow upfront investment from the private sector to be reimbursed by the beneficiaries of a healthier environment. If successful, the project will serve as an exemplar for developing models for similar schemes which can be used on a national scale.

Photo credit: The Rivers Trust