These projects in the Upper Culm generated a lot of interest in the river and its condition, so from late 2018 the AONB team was looking for ways to extend the project and generate a longer-term legacy.
At this time, a new funding stream became available, through the European Union’s Interreg programme, which is designed to encourage innovation and share learning across the EU. The specific programme in which we we were interested, part of the Two Seas programme, was focused on the impacts of climate change, specifically flood and drought, on communities in the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Colleagues in Somerset County Council (no stranger to extreme flood events!) were leading the project and we started building a partnership to explore the potential for the River Culm as a whole to take part.
New partners down-stream
As we reached out and discussed the themes of how climate change will impact on flood, drought, water quality, wildlife and the economy, we met with many organisations and people all along the Culm who were keen to get involved and work together with us to tackle these huge problems. These included the National Trust at Killerton, who were starting on a journey to make the estate more sustainable; Mid-Devon District Council, who were in the middle of consulting on the new Culm Garden Village and had an ambition to make it an exemplar green development; Highways England and Network Rail, who have major transport routes through the catchment that are affected by flooding, and numerous resident and community groups concerned about the issues and wanting to take action.
Enthused by this groundswell of support we developed a full application together with 10 other organisations from four different countries, to create what became known as “Co-Adapt“, which explores how communities can become more involved in shaping decisions about their river and make it more resilient in the long term. the application was approved by the EU in early 2019 and the project is now well underway.