The Natural Course project is a collaborative project delivered with the help of the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Natural England, Greater Manchester Combined Authorities and local Rivers Trusts.
These organisations are coming together to seek cost-effective solutions to improve and protect water quality for future generations. The project aims to make it easier and more affordable to improve the quality of our rivers whilst empowering and encouraging the public, local businesses and organisations to work towards a shared goal.
This idea builds on the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) and will work with the following catchment hosts to assemble a range of data and evidence to guide action; the Ribble Rivers Trust, Groundwork, Healthy Rivers Trust, Lune Rivers Trust, South Cumbria Rivers Trust, West Cumbria Rivers Trust and Wyre Rivers Trust.
The 10 year project will be based in the North West and is the first LIFE Integrated Project (IP) in the UK.
The Natural Course project has been developed as figures show that over half of European waters are failing to meet UK and EU targets in water quality, with many countries finding the methods used to achieve these targets difficult to achieve.
Natural Course hopes to use the North West Region to explore best practice in both urban and rural environments, the findings will then be shared with the rest of the UK and Europe in the hope of helping other regions to improve water quality. Natural Course will;
- Test the capability of best practice in achieving UK and EU legislation in water quality
- Use the North West River Basin as a flagship project
- Make better use of resources, share ownership of issues, reduce barriers and maximise outcomes by collaborating with partners in the public, private and third party sector
The North West has been chosen as the region has a unique balance of urban and rural areas. The region’s two cities and other highly-populated, historically industrialised, urban areas stand in stark contrast with the rural landscape; much of which is used for agriculture with large areas designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
As well as a diverse range of land usage the region also has a range of pollution problems which affect water quality; in urban areas there are current and historical pollution issues, some of which stem from the Industrial Revolution. In rural areas diffuse pollution from agriculture and other rural communities is a major contributor to the poor water quality.
Finally, the North West is home to some of the most stunning and valuable landscapes and water environments in the world and has a hugely diverse range of landscapes and habitats- not forgetting that the North West has the highest rainfall levels found in England and Wales with little radiation from the sun!