The Rivers Trust has just signed an exciting new agreement with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) to provide financial loans to local Rivers Trusts to help them implement 13 river improvement projects across England. The loans will enable local Rivers Trusts to cash-flow the implementation of their Water Environment Grant projects – a government grant scheme which provides funding to improve the water environment in rural England. Once the projects have been completed and reimbursed by WEG, the loan will be returned to EFF. Simon Wightman, at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said: “We are pleased that our loans will enable the delivery of these 13 projects addressing threats to freshwater environments across the country. Cash flow can be a big challenge for organisations running large grant-funded projects that are paid in arrears, and we hope that investments like ours are a temporary solution on the way to more accessible grant schemes in future. We look forward to hearing about how these projects progress in the next year.” The £1.6 million loaned by EFF through this facility will enable the implementation of 13 projects totalling £5.7 million. Projects supported are spread throughout England, with activities including: weir removal, fish passage improvement, river restoration, wetland creation, farmer engagement, phosphate reduction, peat restoration, flood plain reconnection, water quality improvement, invasive species, diffuse pollution, natural flood management, reduction in sediment loading, soils advisers, and the restoration of 2.2km of plastic-lined river. Jodie Mills, Director at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “This loan scheme is fantastic. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to accept almost £2.5 million of funding for vital conservation projects across West Cumbria. This includes a £1.5 million project to restore the River Keekle near Whitehaven, which is in a shocking state as a plastic liner installed in the 1990s is breaking up, eroding riverbanks, contributing to flooding downstream and plastic pollution. We’ll be removing the plastic in full and restoring the river to a much more natural state, benefiting both local communities and wildlife.” This programme will run until late 2021.