TODAY, the Government opened the application process to the long-awaited Water Restoration Fund (WRF).

Environment secretary Steve Barclay announced up to £11 million from water company fines and penalties (accrued from April 2022 to Oct 2023) are to be invested in area specific water-related schemes instead of heading straight to the Treasury.

In our region, this equates to £2,150,000 from South West Water.

Our CEO Dr Laurence Couldrick said:

“It is best we see no pollution, but when there is we want to see fines acting as a proper deterrent and local remediation.

The delay between a pollution event and restorative action must be minimised as while SWW were ordered to pay the £2.1m of fines over the April 2022 to October 2023 period they relate to specific pollution incidents from 2016 to 2020.”

westcountry rivers trust ceo speaks with bbc reporter next to a river

Laurence speaks with the BBC’s reporter Kirk England on 9 April about the fund, and the health of our rivers

Colleagues at our national body The Rivers Trust echoed this, stating that this type of remediation is reliant on environmental damage happening in the first place. They called for a major boost in funding and resources to go alongside this type of funding stream and the creation of an integrated approach to land and water management.

The fund is open until 11.59pm on Friday 7 June 2024. Community groups and schemes, farmers and landowners, eNGOs, Local Authorities, Catchment Partnerships and more can apply. Projects that improve biodiversity and community access to blue and green spaces are encouraged, with grants expected to be awarded to successful applicants from late July.

The Fund is focused on restoring and improving inland and estuarine waters and wetlands in the specified geographical areas. Applications can be made for development and/or delivery work.

Our charity is now considering the potential projects we could support across our region with funding from the WRF.

More details at:

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said:

“Through the Water Restoration Fund, I will be making sure that money from fines and penalties – taken from water company profits only – is channelled directly back into our waterways.

Community-led projects are vital to improving and maintaining water quality across the country, and this fund will help build on that success.”

The WRF was laid out in the government’s Plan For Water in April 2023.

Government Press Release – 9 April 2024