Lessons Learnt by Stakeholders in the Delivery of Integrated Catchment Management Projects

Written by Felicity Monger, as part of her YWNT Common Cause Partnership Internship

I have recently completed an internship with the Yorkshire Water National Trust (YWNT) Common Cause Partnership. This work was supported by the United Bank of Carbon and iCASP. 

The partnership aims to deliver integrated catchment management initiatives for the purposes of flood management, improvements to water quality, benefits to biodiversity and habitat restoration in the western spine of Yorkshire, from the Dales down to Sheffield. Integrated catchment management is becoming essential to successful water management, and takes a holistic approach involving all stakeholders including water companies, county councils, wildlife and environmental organizations in decision making. Several catchment management projects have taken and are taking place in this region already. Some of these have been delivered by the National Trust and/or Yorkshire Water, but many have been delivered by other partnerships and initiatives in the area. The partnership understands the importance of identifying these projects and determining what they have delivered. I was asked to collate this information in order to support the partnerships decision making when selecting future catchment projects.  

To achieve this I undertook a mixture of 13 interviews and 2 questionnaires with targeted YWNT stakeholders, including representatives from; Yorkshire Water, National Trust, Environment Agency, Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust  to discuss projects in the focus area and investigate the lessons learnt from delivering such projects. 

I produced a report on these lessons learnt alongside of database of mapped past and current initiatives. I divided the lessons learnt by stakeholders into the ‘key issues’ faced and the ‘keys to success’ in delivery the projects, which are summarized in the figure below.

Key IssuesKeys to Success
Availability of Land
Access to Resources
Permissions and Consent 
Funding for Project Development
Funding Timeframes
Overarching Partnership Aims
Key Partnership Individuals
Ongoing Evaluation 
Support from Landowners

‘Key issues’ in the delivery of integrated catchment management projects included: availability of land, as projects rely heavily on the cooperation of landowners. Access to resources, in terms of technical expertise e.g. GIS and modelling expertise. Delays in project delivery through requirements for permissions and consent. The limitation of funding for only project delivery, there seems to be little funding support for project development and scoping studies. Funding is often received post-hoc which causes issues for smaller organizations wanting to carry out project delivery. 

Project delivery relied on a number of ‘keys to success’, the most valued of which was the importance of partnership. A mutual overarching aim for the partnership must be decided upon, alongside key individuals within partnership organizations motivated by the same vision. Ongoing evaluation during a project development and delivery also contributes to a successful project, tools such as RAG (Red, Amber, Green), traffic light system can be used to identify when parts of a projects fall behind. Finally, although also noted a ‘key issue’, land availability is crucial for the success of a project. The support of the landowner can help build rapport with others in a catchment and often lead to further project development.  

These discussions with stakeholders also led to a number of future project ideas for YWNT to explore, such as developing wetlands, moorland restoration and sediment reduction schemes. 

The report also offered some recommended actions for the partnership to undertake including improvements to data sharing methods to support a good partnership base, support of technical expertise for YW and NT to smaller organizations.