Catchment management beacon project – implementing innovative legal and organisational structures for a just transition

Start date

March 2020

End date

September 2020


Catchment management is an environmentally friendly and potentially low-carbon impact method of influencing raw water quality at its source by managing land use practices. One of these practices is that of 'sustainable landscapes', where an area of land requires only inputs that are naturally available such as water and fertiliser, with little or no additional support. This practice aims to become and remain self-sustaining over long periods of time.

A new approach to paying for these sustainable landscapes is being piloted in the Hampshire Avon. The approach is called LENs (Landscape Enterprise Networks), and it works by linking management and investment in landscapes to the long-term needs of business and society. It does this by helping businesses to work together to influence the quality and performance of the landscapes in which they operate. 

LENs breaks down complex landscape systems into ‘bite-sized’ transactable chunks.  It creates a series of discrete value chains, where small consortia of businesses brought together around a shared landscape need, are helped to procure the landscape outcomes which matter to their business.

So far the LEN in the Hampshire Avon has enabled Wessex Water and Wiltshire County Council to coordinate their procurement of phosphorus management measures from a consortium of farmers, brought together by Black Sheep Consulting.

This Surrey IAA project sets out to investigate how a system like LENs might extend its scope to draw in, represent, and balance the interests and involvement of the wide range of ‘players’ required to make collaboration in the longer-term work. 

In particular, the IAA funding will help the team behind the Hampshire Avon LEN to develop legal structures and organisational forms to provide certainty, transparency and trust amongst the multiple partners. The lack of these structures, which are normally developed at the individual organisational level, is holding back collective action, and that is something the IAA project aims to prevent.



Planned impact from Phase 1 of this IAA project includes:

  • Building understanding with key stakeholders of the project and its purpose and holding an initial inception meeting with core stakeholders to finalise the project work plan and the process of consultation.
  • Using a consensus-building e-consultation process (involving anonymised structured and customised surveys to ensure all stakeholders’ viewpoints are captured, see Annex for proposed list of stakeholders).
  • Analysing opinion data (i.e., interviews and surveys from the consultation) to identify areas of agreement and disagreement between the stakeholders for a phase I report.

The above outcomes from Phase 1 of the project will help towards developing the legal and organisational structures required for the Hampshire Avon LEN to progress with their collective work on sustainable landscaping.

The aim is that the wider network of stakeholders will have identified and addressed all the issues that prevent them collaborating collectively to manage the catchment and established a legal structure which creates a collective commitment to collaborate to deliver a wide range of environmental outcomes in the catchment.

In the process of doing this, the stakeholders will have developed a clearer, unified understanding of the barriers to doing so, and the action required to overcome these.

On a larger scale, we will have shared the model developed in the Hampshire Avon with other areas and groups of stakeholders considering similar ideas. We will have also fed the outputs of this project into the DEFRA research on collective landscape management mentioned above.

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