Investing in nature: Wyre catchment project

We must find new ways to invest in recovery of the natural processes that protect and support us, at a scale and pace that can make a difference.

Emily Cooper


New project in Wyre catchment given support to attract private sector investment to tackle climate change and restore nature

An environmental project in Lancashire has been selected as one of first schemes to receive grant funding to encourage sustainable private sector investment for the benefit of the local community and the surrounding environment.

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) and Triodos Bank UK have formed an innovative collaboration to support environmental projects to create sustainable funding models.

Having been sourced and evaluated by Triodos Bank UK, The Rivers Trust’s work on natural flood management in the Wyre catchment is one of four projects that will receive grant funding from Defra, the EA and EFF to support their development, complete business plans to attract private sector investment, and deliver long-term environmental benefits and sustainable financial returns.

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

“The Environment Agency is 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, then we need all parts of society to play a part.

“We know that there is significant appetite in the finance sector to invest in the environment and restoring nature which has long term benefits for society. We hope that providing support to these pioneer projects will not only help them to attract investment, but also help us to develop models that can be used by other schemes.”

What will the project do in the Wyre catchment?

The project will evaluate the effectiveness and certainty of a variety of natural flood management solutions. This will help prioritise investment in solutions which offer the greatest social, economic and environmental return for the catchment and its community.

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 by the Rivers Trust would help to reduce the frequency of flooding for a large number of ‘at risk’ properties identified in a village in Lancashire.

At the same time as reducing flood risk, these natural flood management schemes will create new habitats for wildlife and help to mitigate climate change through the storage of greenhouse gases in the newly created wetlands and peatlands.

Who else is involved?

The seed funding will allow us to work with the Wyre Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, United Utilities, Triodos Bank UK, Co-op Insurance and Flood Re, to develop a financial instrument that would allow upfront investment from the private sector to be reimbursed by the beneficiaries of a healthier environment.

Mark Lloyd, CEO from The Rivers Trust, said:

“At a time when we are facing a climate emergency, we must find new ways to invest in recovery of the natural processes that protect and support us, at a scale and pace that can make a difference. Hard engineering alone will not address our future flood risk challenges and must be supplemented by natural solutions.

“We believe that by implementing natural flood risk management features at scale, we could see significant financial returns from a better river environment. We expect this pilot to lead to future natural capital investment and build a credible case for green investment to restore our river landscapes.”

What is Natural Flood Management?

This article has been supported by the LIFE IP Natural Course project, to find out more about Natural Course, visit:

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