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WWT receives grant of £1.58m to protect and enhance Somerset coast

Posted on 10 Dec 2020

WWT's ambitious new project to safeguard the Somerset coast from the effects of climate change has received a £1.58m donation as part of the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

It is one of the first environmental projects awarded a grant from the government’s £80 million allocated pot.

The scheme, which will focus on creating and restoring 130ha of habitats for wildlife, aims to increase the robustness of the county’s coastline by delivering landscape-scale interventions. Nature-based solutions, through natural flood management and improved land management, will also boost flood resilience, improve soil and water quality and help wetlands to absorb carbon.

The development also aims to embed the knowledge and skills within local communities so that they can continue this work well into the future.

WWT’s Senior Project Manager for Wetland Landscapes, Tim McGrath said:

“The world is facing a climate crisis, a nature crisis and an emerging wellbeing crisis. To combat this, WWT is launching its own Blue Recovery, which proposes the creation and restoration of wetlands as a natural solution to these problems.

“Healthy wetlands have multiple benefits for people and wildlife; they store more carbon than forests, they store and slow the flow of water, preventing flooding, they support biodiversity and provide people with an abundance of nature to enjoy, proven to have positive impacts on health.

“We are so pleased to be the recipients of such a generous fund to help this work get underway in Somerset, where WWT has had a longstanding presence, centred around the spectacular WWT Steart Marshes.”

The project will be delivered in partnership with Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG), Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

Defra announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million today, to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see trees planted - 800,000 in total - and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

  • 68 projects have been awarded grants between £62k and £3.8 million to kick-start a pipeline of nature-based projects while creating and retaining jobs
  • First funding round sees almost £40 million allocated, second round of funding to open in early 2021

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:

“These projects will drive forward work across England to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create green jobs, and will be a vital part of helping us to build back greener from coronavirus.

“I look forward to working with environmental organisations as these projects help address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, while creating and retaining jobs as part of the green recovery.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Supporting our natural environment is one of the most valuable things we can do right now. All these projects are of huge benefit to our beautiful countryside and wildlife, but will also support jobs, health and wellbeing, which are vitally important as we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis.”

The government’s forthcoming Environment Bill puts the environment at the centre of policy making to ensure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation. The fund is supporting a range of nature conservation and recovery, as well as nature-based solutions projects, which will contribute towards government’s wider 25 Year Environment Plan commitments.