Press release

£28 million to enable communities to spring-clean England’s rivers

The fund will run initially from 2012/13 to 2014/15 with up to £10 million each year.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A £28 million Fund to clean up England’s rivers and encourage local wildlife to flourish has been announced today by Environment Minister Richard Benyon.

Part of a £92 million Defra commitment to clearing up England’s rivers and lakes, the Fund announced today will allow communities and charities to tackle local eyesores and encourage iconic wildlife to thrive by tackling pollution and removing redundant dams, weirs and other man-made structures to create habitats which work for wildlife.

Mr Benyon said:

“Rivers and lakes are a vital, and much-loved, part of the English countryside and I want to ensure they remain that way.

“We’ve all seen examples of rivers choked up with rubbish and weeds and the devastating effects on wildlife and the scenic beauty of these precious places. But we’ve also seen some fantastic successes in reversing these declines, such as the return of otters to all counties in England.

“With only a quarter of our lakes and rivers currently providing a home to a wide range of birds, fish and mammals, there is still much more we can all do. Today’s £28 million Fund will help communities and charities interested in doing just that and I hope it will lead to us soon celebrating the same sort of success for other treasured wildlife, such as water voles, kingfishers and salmon.”

Community groups and charities can apply for a share of the Catchment Restoration Fund to clean up their local rivers by tackling pollution, restoring wildlife habitats and enabling fish to migrate.

The Environment Agency will be responsible for running the fund over the next three years and will ensure that money is given to local groups who can make a real difference.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency said:

“This is a great opportunity to create a better water environment.  Cleaner water, flowing in a more natural landscape will be good for business, people and wildlife, and help society adapt to the effects of climate change.

“We encourage businesses, local authorities and community groups to join together with charitable organisations to apply for funding and come up with big ideas for their local waterway.”


  1. The fund will run initially from 2012/13 to 2014/15 with up to £10 million each year.
  2. The lead applicant for funding must be a charity or an organisation with charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes.
  3. Closing date for bids is 29th February.  Funding will be awarded by April 30th following assessment by a national panel led by the Environment Agency and representatives from Defra and Natural England, see:
  4. The Fund will also help to deliver the commitments in the Natural Environment White Paper to restore nature in our rivers and water bodies. The White Paper, The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature, was published in June 2011. For an update on progress on implementation, see:
Published 3 February 2012