iCASP - The Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme

The Yorkshire Ouse basin, which encompasses the cities of Leeds, York and Sheffield as well as the rivers Aire, Calder, Derwent, Don, Swale, Wharfe, Ure and Nidd is home to 6.7% of the UK population, 30% of the Northern Powerhouse region and includes 10 metropolitan boroughs.

The region includes a variety of different environments, from large urban areas to lowland agriculture and sparsely populated uplands including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As such, it is a perfect location to instigate a programme of work which uses existing NERC-funded science to identify, develop, test and improve integrated solutions on a range of environmental impacts.

This encompasses mitigation of drought and flood risk through improved connectivity between weather forecasting, land management and water resource management; improvements in water quality for both human water supply and rivers/other water bodies; and better management of soils for improved regional food security and carbon storage (in woodlands and peatland). By integrating these aspects of weather, land and water, it will enable better plans to be made for the region that allow for sustainable development as the population grows whilst protecting the valuable natural environment.

Ultimately, by creating a region that is better able to deal with a more variable climate, it will become an area that attracts investment as people and their businesses opt to live and work in an area that has adapted to the severe effects of environmental change, with improved quality of life.

Many major global companies already have their water headquarters or global environmental head offices in the region together with a range of SMEs and large businesses whose interests include catchment management. As such, there is considerable momentum behind the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme - Yorkshire iCASP - which seeks to deliver economic and social impacts to the region.

Yorkshire iCASP will capitalise on existing NERC-funded science to develop tools, strategies, plans and policies to promote hazard resilience, mitigation of extreme events (floods and droughts), develop flood forecasting capability, improve water quality, enhance soils and farm practice and develop a joined-up approach for land and water management. iCASP has been co-created by partners drawn from local authorities, government agencies, major infrastructure/utility owners, private sector service providers, academic institutions, and third sector organisations who will work together to produce and deliver a work programme that seeks to enhance the economic and societal status of the region.

Outcomes from the collaboration will deliver tools and techniques with applicability outside the region, creating services and products which can be used around the world to further benefit the region and the UK economy more generally. Examples of the projects that have been discussed in the work programme include development of green financing enterprises; development of new tools to better link flood forecasting with impacts on rivers and different land management practices; decision-support tools that allow different area-specific flood/drought management scenarios to be evaluated; and raw water management approaches that reduce the cost of water treatment.

All will have different, and often multifaceted, impacts on society and the wider environment so another important aspect of iCASP is the documentation and evaluation of the projects implemented as part of the work programme, measuring the changes that they contribute to the regional, and national, economy as well as the growth of iCASP partners through leveraged investment, job creation and wider societal benefits.


The programme seeks to create >£50M of economic impact in the regional economy of Yorkshire. It will also provide wider societal impacts such as enhanced resilience to droughts and floods, job creation, product innovation, policy development and new governance processes, and environmental impacts including enhanced carbon sequestration, water quality improvements and habitat creation.

A large number of organisations are involved in this impact programme, from regional SMEs to large global companies with significant investment in the region. iCASP users are integral to the development and success of the programme, rather than simply being the beneficiaries of the work described.

We have a set of 'Springboard Partners' who have been involved in the co-creation of the objectives, through open innovation approaches, and who have committed to the programme of work through in-kind support. These Springboard Partners allow us to make rapid initial impact progress with the programme.

They include public bodies such as the Environment Agency and Natural England which have responsibility for regulating, managing and advising on the natural environment in England; major regional decision-making bodies such as the Local Enterprise Partnership and its delivery mechanism via the Local Nature Partnerships; the UK Met Office who are recognised global leaders in weather and climate modelling and forecasting; local authorities in the region, major businesses such as Arup and Yorkshire Water, partnership networks such as the Defra funded Dales to Vales Rivers Network who include National Parks and Rivers Trusts, the National Farmers Union, and charities including the IUCN, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and LEAF who promote sustainable development of environment-based farming practices.

Beyond these Springboard Partners there are a wide range of organisations who wish to be involved in iCASP including local councils, regeneration organisations, Forestry Commission, charities, partnership roups and independent consultancies and businesses.

The Yorkshire region will benefit from greater exploitation of NERC science. Importantly, it uses a partnership approach to achieve maximum benefit and additionality. For example, several organisations have £millions of planned spend on land management measures in the region over the coming five years; integrating these schemes together to gain multiple benefits and leverage is a core impact goal of iCASP.

Directed by NERC science, spatial planning and integration of management interventions in rural and urban areas will be achieved enabling improved water quality and reduced treatment costs, resilience to flood and drought hazard, farm resource efficiency and soil resilience, and efficient delivery of core regional and governmental directives related to water, land and carbon management.

Deprived communities will benefit from flood hazard reduction and enhanced social resilience to extreme conditions, job creation and community engagement. Regional and national agencies will benefit from improved climate and weather forecasting developments, supported by NERC models and observation networks. New products such as environmental sensors for water quality, and spatial decision toolkits can be exploited for wider national and international export supporting skills, business and employment opportunities.

Place-based ecosystem service payment schemes will be trialled along with combined use of the Woodland and Peatland Codes via green financing. For charities, third sector organisations, and public bodies iCASP will provide new opportunities to help deliver key services improving efficiency and effectiveness (e.g. more secure transport links and improved recreation amenities, enhanced flood and drought protection).

Project website