Partners in protecting our environment

Partners in protecting our environment

Wildlife across the Wessex Water region is benefiting from two decades of funding by our Partners Programme.

Set up in 1998, the programme has provided financial support to more than 60 practical conservation and research projects which have enhanced biodiversity.

Recent projects have included working with Dorset Wildlife Trust on wild rivers, Avon Wildlife Trust restoring the North Somerset Levels and Moors, farm conservation within Cranborne Chase AONB and the Wessex Chalk Streams Project in Wiltshire.

The Wessex Chalk Streams Project is run in partnership with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Wiltshire Fisheries Association and others – plus a team of more than 100 volunteers. It has helped more than 60km of river recover their natural diversity and overcome historic issues such as dredging, over engineering and off-land pollution. 

We've invested heavily in upgrading our treatment works to improve river water quality, as well as reducing the amount of water we extract from the river and its catchment to keep flows sufficient for the environment and habitats to thrive.

Dr Gary Mantle, chief executive of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Over the last 20 years the partners and an army of volunteers have come together to tackle an incredible 111 projects, covering 60km of river, which is a phenomenal achievement.

“Chalk streams are a remarkable type of river that are unique to this country, with a constant flow of clear, alkaline water coming from groundwater sources that has encouraged a wonderful diversity of species.

“We’ve gained a huge amount of understanding but we know there’s so much more that needs to be done, with pressures such as invasive species or climate change contributing to low flows. The river has to be able to respond to all of that.”

Committed to protecting and improving the environment, Wessex Water’s biggest-ever investment programme for 2020 to 2025 includes a wide range of strategic and local partnerships.

In addition to major environmental schemes, there has also been a small grants scheme which is designed to fund short-term and smaller scale projects which address catchment management, ecosystems, science and research.

Dave Jones, senior regulatory scientist at Wessex Water, said: “The Partners Programme is a key strand of our biodiversity action plan (BAP) and we’re really proud to have supported so many important environmental projects since 1998.

“Our next phase of major grants funding applications has just opened, and we’re looking for innovative new or existing projects to work in partnership with to deliver key outcomes.

“We’re in a time of change and we want our Partners Programme to evolve to meet the different challenges which the environment faces and our customers expect of us.”

For more information visit wessexwater.co.uk/bap