Carol assessed how this project to address flooding in the area contributed to local sustainability using The Five Capitals Model:
Natural Capital: The project made considerable progress in resolving soil management and water storage issues to benefit local communities. River water and soil quality improved as a result. Although not directly targeted, landscape character was also enhanced.
Social Capital: The project was successful in bringing together a wide range of stakeholders to raise awareness of the issues, agree a comprehensive and forward looking strategy and celebrate the catchment's history and character with local communities, e.g. an annual Parrett River Festival.
Human Capital: Directly investing in increased capacity for FWAG built trust with local farmers, provided specialist advice on changing management practices, and helping farmers to share ideas and try new techniques. EU funding meant that project partners benefited from collaboration with Europen partners, to spread the learning process. The project's outreach extended to working with local schools, specialist interest groups and communities through a number of initiatives.
Manufactured Capital: The PCP worked with local planners on development issues in the catchment concerning flood risk management, including small-scale water storage features and more resilient building design. Improved soils and water management have reduced sediment washed over local roads and have reduced peat shrinkage to safeguard archaeological features. Effort was made to minimise the need for "end-of-pipe" hard engineering solutions by using land management alternatives. However, progress implementing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) across the catchment was slow due to uncertainty over maintenance responsibilities.
Financial Capital: Key partners have worked through the project to optimise the results of disparate funding streams. The project partnership and shared strategy have provided a strong focus for agreement on spending priorities. The PCP obtained considerable EU funding to implement specific components of the strategy, enabling much more to be done within a shorter timescale.
An association of individuals, communities, farmers, businesses and other organisations have been working together in the Parrett Catchment Project (PCP) since 2000 to address the issue of flooding.
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