Catchment Partnership Bristol Avon
About the partnership
The Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership (BACP) comprises a range of organisations, groups, authorities and individuals dedicated to working together to improve the water environment and provide wider benefits for people and nature at a catchment scale – known as a Catchment Based Approach (CaBA).
Formed in 2012 with support of central government, the partnership has produced a catchment plan to work towards achieving a better water environment for all.
The Bristol Avon catchment encompasses the North Somerset coastal streams and the Lower Severn Vale sub catchments. In its entirety, the catchment drains over 2,800km² of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset, with the Bristol Avon River itself flowing through the dramatic Avon Gorge and into the Severn Estuary.
There is a strong farming heritage, particularly in the north of the catchment, and the catchment landscape is important for wildlife, angling, navigation and recreation.
The Bristol Avon and its tributaries flow through the towns of Malmesbury, Chippenham, Trowbridge, Frome and Radstock and in its lower reaches, through Bath and Bristol. The catchment is home to more than one million people. The Bristol Avon catchment also encompasses the North Somerset coastal streams and the Lower Severn Vale sub catchments.
The water environment
The water environment includes all rivers, streams and wetlands that drain within the catchment landscape. It also includes all the different types of landscape that we build on, cultivate and modify; all of these human interventions have an impact on the water cycle and can, for example, lead to an increased risk of pollution leaching in to our watercourses and ground water aquifers.
Why do we need to work in partnership?
The government aims to ensure all waterbodies in England meet good ecological status by 2027. Any waterbody that does not meet good ecological status is classified as failing under the European Union’s Water Framework Directive.
These are just some of the water-based challenges within the Bristol Avon catchment that can be addressed more effectively by working together:
Only 11% of the catchment is classified as having ‘good ecological status’.
Although this is typical of other catchments in the UK, it demonstrates the scale of the challenge to meet the Water Framework Directive targets.
89% fail to meet the targets.
Due to factors including physical modification, phosphate levels, sediment load and low fish populations. Some landowners are losing valuable topsoil, nutrients and pesticides. Due to erosion, run-off or leaching; sometimes linked to poor soil structure and compaction
Heavy rainfall running off rural and urban areas causes surface water and river flooding in specific locations.
Tidal flooding continues to be a threat in the lower reaches of the catchment.
What is the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership?
BACP is one of over 100 catchment partnerships across England to support the CaBA which embeds collaborative working at a river catchment scale to deliver cross-cutting improvements to our water environments.
BACP is supported by a Steering Group and there are also various project task groups who meet regularly to develop and deliver partnership projects from across the catchment. During 2019/20 the BACP is being co-hosted by Wessex Water and the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART).
For more information on our governance please feel free to read our updated Terms of Reference.
BACP Steering Group
The BACP steering group meets quarterly to discuss partnership projects and issues around the catchment and consists of 14 organisations:
- Avon Wildlife Trust
- Bath & North East Somerset Council
- Bristol Avon Rivers Trust
- Bristol City Council
- Bristol Water
- Environment Agency
- Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group – South West
- National Farmers Union
- Natural England
- North Somerset Council
- South Gloucestershire Council
- West of England Rural Network
- Wessex Water
- Wiltshire Council
- Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
The following water-based issues have been identified as the highest priorities for the partnership:
High sediment loading
- rapid run-off from agricultural land
- compacted rural land
- urban hard surfaces.
Low river flows
- abstraction for water supply
- poor upstream water retention and aquifer recharge.
Reduced natural habitat and wildlife
- poor riparian habitat
- highly modified channels
- in-stream barriers to prevent fish migrating
- increase of Invasive non-native species.
- An overarching pressure as more extreme weather may result in more flooding and droughts within the catchment