NatureBid project to improve water quality and flood management

We are pleased to announce a new pilot project which awards funding to landowners in the Upper Aire to improve water quality and flood management.

What is NatureBid?

NatureBid is a reverse-style auction in which farmers and landowners can bid for works on their land to improve water quality and/or help with natural flood management.

The auction will run for two weeks from Monday 15th – Sunday 28th March 2021. 

During the auction, landowners can use the online bidding platform to select locations on their land where they’d like the works to take place and bid an amount they could provide the work for. The most competitive bids will receive funding after a period of review to achieve the best possible outcomes for the catchment.

NatureBid has been developed in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Sylva Foundation and is being delivered by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife Partnership, who help to deliver the Upper Aire Project, are also advising on NatureBid.

Ruth Robinson, River Aire Project Officer at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re really excited to offer this funding opportunity to farmers and landowners in the Upper Aire catchment. NatureBid has run successfully in other counties in the UK, but this is the first time it has been trialled in Yorkshire. Through this partnership project we hope to restore watercourses back to good ecological status, so that ecosystem benefits delivered by them can be improved.”

Leaky dam in the River Aire

What can types of work can landowners bid for?

Examples of works that could be successful in acquiring funding include leaky dams, buffer strips, wetland scrapes (shallow ponds), hedgerow management, soil aeration, fencing, drinking point management and tree planting.

There are two main funding sources, both provided by the Environment Agency, which cover different measures and provide some restrictions on where works can take place.

One funding source is supporting natural flood management methods: wetland scrapes, tree planting and leaky dams and can only be delivered in the sub catchments of Otterburn Beck from its source to joining the River Aire, and the River Aire from Otterburn Beck to Eshton Beck.

The second funding source allows for soil aeration, hedgerows, buffer strips, fencing and drinking points to be implemented anywhere in the Upper Aire catchment. However, there are seven priority waterbodies that will receive double weighting for this funding. The priority waterbodies are considered a priority by the Environment Agency as they do not meet good ecological status. By weighting these water bodies we are encouraging improvements to their water quality and improving natural flood management in these areas. The map below shows all these areas.

NatureBid map update

These targeted interventions will help to improve water quality and reduce flood risk, and support the delivery of other environmental benefits such as protecting and improving soil health and enhancing biodiversity. They will also encourage carbon capture to help in the fight against the impacts of the climate emergency.

NatureBid is a great new funding opportunity for farmers and landowners to take the lead in identifying and carrying out works on their land to benefit the environment and their businesses
Phil Lyth
Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife Partnership

Iain McDonell, Environment Agency Senior environment officer for agriculture said: “NatureBid offers an innovative way of providing funding and will enable landowners and farmers on the Upper Aire to more easily deliver enhancements for the environment that work for their land. This pilot is one part of the wide range of measures to improve the region’s resilience to the impacts of climate change. It will accelerate efforts to reach net zero and help achieve the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan goals for nature through effective nature-based solutions.”

Projects helping Nature Bid happen

Nature Bid is being funded by the Environment Agency through projects Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) and the Upper Aire Project (UAP).

The Leeds FAS project aims to help protect those at risk of flooding in Leeds and along the River Aire using a variety of Natural Flood Management measures in the catchment. These can be broadly split into three categories: river and floodplain management, woodland management and runoff management.

The Upper Aire Project is a separate project which aims to improve water quality and habitat in 17 waterbodies with a total catchment of 356.85km2. Much of the Upper Aire catchment is adversely affected by the impacts of sediment and diffuse pollution (the combined effects of erosion, flooding and run off from rural land).

Bidding opens on Monday 15th March 2021. 

Visit the online auction now

NatureBid logos