A flooded river and bridge

Wyre NFM Investment Readiness Project

The Rivers Trust and Wyre Rivers Trust are leading a new pioneering project, which will investigate innovative funding opportunities for implementing Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures on the River Wyre and its tributaries, to help reduce the risk of flooding in Churchtown.

The project will explore the potential for securing green finance from investors, which can be paid back over several years by a range of organisations which will benefit from reduced flood risk and other benefits from the project.

This project is being delivered by The Rivers Trust, Wyre Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, United Utilities, Triodos Bank, Co-op Insurance and FloodRE with funding from Esme Fairbairn Foundation.

Growing support for Natural Solutions

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

Initial modelling of the River Wyre catchment has shown that development of approximately 70 hectares of NFM features might reduce the frequency of flooding to up to 120 properties in Churchtown with a large potential cost saving to multiple beneficiaries including the water company, Environment Agency, local authorities, insurance industry, locally based businesses and of course homeowners. Theoretically, these cost savings could generate a long-term revenue stream for repayment of upfront investment in reduced flood risk.

The overall goal of this project is to achieve “investment readiness” for a catchment-scale NFM solution for Churchtown that could be implemented with social and green investment capital. This will involve testing the initial flood modelling, working with the relevant landowners to get permission for the works, identifying the mechanisms and beneficiaries to repay the capital investment and building the business case.

Only if all these stages are successful would the funds become available for the natural flood management works to be carried out. This is a potentially exciting project that could reduce the risk of flooding for hundreds of people and restore biodiversity to parts of the Wyre river catchment. However, there are a number of steps that need to be taken before it is known whether this is possible or not.

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