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Linking water management and biodiversity in partnership

Submitted by Tahia Devissche... 16th March 2011 16:50


Planting trees in the catchment

Somerset County Council has been working with local partners to address water management issues and climate change adaptation in Somerset. A partnership bid was successfully made for European funding to support this work. The Water Adaptation is Valuable for Everybody (WAVE) project brings in approximately £875,000 of European Regional Development Fund money into the county from 2008-2012 to better understand the likely impacts of climate change and to help develop more climate-resilient water systems in Somerset.

Key messages and learning outcomes

Partnership working towards a common cause has helped to improve and enhance relationships between agencies in the area. Partner organisations have a clear role in projects, playing to their individual strengths.

Acceptance that there is a common challenge to be addressed provides a foundation for successful partnership working. European funding bids are best tackled with external expertise to support the process. Good financial management is imperative with these complex funding regimes.

Summary

Over the last few years, there has been a growing recognition by Somerset County Council that climate change should be a priority issue, and that it should be working with strategic partners and local communities to deal with this challenge. The Council's 2008 Climate Change Strategy highlighted the risks that climate change poses to Somerset, with sea level rise, changing weather patterns and increased storminess likely to lead to both increased and prolonged flooding and summer drought.

National Indicator 188 (Planning to Adapt to Climate Change), part of the Somerset LAA, calls for evidence of working in partnership and pooling of resources and expertise, to identify and manage climate related risk, including impacts on local ecosystems and biodiversity.

Adaptation outcomes

It is early days for the project but some physical results are already starting to be seen. There has been woodland planting on farmland, for instance, as well as two new Community Woodlands, and new water level management infrastructure has been installed that will reduce flood risk downstream.

Enabling factors

Partnership working towards a common cause has helped to improve and enhance relationships between agencies in the area. Partner organisations have a clear role in projects, playing to their individual strengths.

Constraints

Enforced budget reduction after initial bid – meant that difficult decisions had to be made about which projects had to be downscaled.

Contact

Stephen Dury, Project Manager, Environmental Resources, 01823 355170