Tag Archives: Environment

£6 million funding for Resilient Frome project

Councillor Nicola Beech, smiling, standing on the ramp of City Hall.
Today’s blog is from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience & Floods

I’m excited to announce that we have been awarded more than £6 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to unlock innovative and nature-based solutions in the River Frome catchment area to make homes, businesses and jobs more resilient to flooding in the future.

We’ve been working in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council, Wessex Water, and the Environment Agency since January 2021 to develop six projects that will deliver sustainable solutions to land and water management, improve flood resilience, respond to climate change and bring a range of benefits to communities in the River Frome catchment area.

The River Frome starts in Dodington Park, South Gloucestershire, and flows for 20 miles through rural countryside and urbanised environments to Bristol where it joins the River Avon and the floating harbour. Some of the proposed improvements to the river catchment will be localised in the city, but because we will be working across the whole catchment, the project will bring multiple benefits to multiple locations.

This project, under the new name “Resilient Frome”, is a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively with partners beyond Bristol’s borders on a ‘whole-systems approach’ to tackle flood risk management and biodiversity – issues that are not limited just to Bristol. By working together, we can improve the entire catchment area at the same time as creating multiple benefits for Bristol’s residents and businesses.

Flood management techniques used in Soutmead.
Flood management in Southmead

Six distinct project areas will be worked on over the next five years, from 2022 to 2027, as part of the Resilient Frome project. These include:

  • Sustainable land management practices, such as the creation of new ‘storage’ ponds and woody dams in rural upstream areas of South Gloucestershire, to improve water quality and ecology as well as help to reduce flood risk. Nature-based solutions used to reduce the impact of flooding will not only help communities be more resilient to future climate change they will also benefit wildlife and water quality and improve the urban environment.
  • Installing flow monitors that will allow us to understand how much water is coming down the river and into the floating harbour. Flow monitors at three key locations will go in during summer 2023 at Wade Street where the river disappears under Cabot Circus, Broadweir near the Galleries, and Netham Lock, to help us better understand the risk of flooding in the city centre when water is not able to be discharged from the floating harbour.
  • Exploring the challenge of meeting important national planning policy requirements, ensuring new development is safe and adaptable to climate change risks. We are investigating innovative ways to regenerate brownfield land to deliver much needed housing and new community spaces in areas at risk of flooding. This work will seek to ensure new development is safe in respect of flood risk and resilient to climate change.
  • Restoration of the river as part of the Frome Gateway regeneration project the restoration will be a key component of the emerging development framework, building on community engagement and what local people would like to see. We will continue to work closely with the local community and businesses to ensure the river restoration project aligns with the Frome Gateway regeneration project, to put the river at the heart of a transformed area with new homes, jobs, and public spaces.
  • Retro fitting Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs) to enable better management of rainwater to prevent surface water and sewer flooding and overflow discharges. SUDs provide storm water storage to reduce surface water flooding and improve water quality, as well as transforming local public spaces by introducing green infrastructure and improving biodiversity in more urban areas.
  • Bringing funding from businesses and land managers together to find environmental solutions that deliver multiple positive outcomes within the catchment area.

Resilient Frome is vital to supporting our ambitions to create a more resilient city and protect our densely populated urban areas. The Frome catchment is largely rural, but the water all flows downstream and meets in the city centre, so it is crucial we take a whole system approach and work across boundaries. The six project areas will help us to protect areas in the city currently at risk of flooding and will also enable us to regenerate brownfield city centre land to safely build housing and new community spaces in the future.

The Resilient Frome project is funded by Defra as part of the £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes, which is managed by the Environment Agency. The programmes will drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.

Oldbury Court Estate
Oldbury Court Estate

Investing in floating harbour’s wildlife and boating community

The map shows the location where the Capricorn Quay pontoon will be. On the waterfront opposite SS Great Britain.

The Floating Harbour in the heart of Bristol is over 250 years old. Functioning as a commercial dock until the mid-1970s, the harbour is now a major tourist attraction with museums, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, whilst also maintaining a working shipyard. It annually plays host to the Harbour Festival, one of the country’s largest free festivals.

Significant investment is needed to keep the harbour running, and our plans for a new pontoon at Capricorn Quay are a step in the right direction. We are creating a large floating ecosystem combined with new moorings.

The increasing the number of moorings by 32 will provide additional income that will assist management of the harbour and its wider environment.

Combined with an integrated floating ecosystem, that connects nearby protected habitats, to improve homes for wildlife as well as overarching biodiversity value and climate resilience for the city. This is in line with the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy goal for 100% of Bristol’s waterways to have excellent water quality which supports healthy wildlife.

The project will provide a large area of floating habitat that will be both visually attractive and functional. It will transform this section of the harbour into a ‘living water park’, the subsurface forest of roots will provide shelter for fish and ideal feeding grounds, improving fish stocks.

The new reed beds will create approximately around 1,000 square metres of habitat that as an ecosystem will improve water quality, support stronger fish stocks and provide haven for birds. Residents and visitors will experience an enhanced waterfront, with visible greenery and more contact with nature.

The micro-wilderness of submerged roots creates an ideal habitat for millions of microorganisms, which use algae, carbon and excess nutrients in the water as a food source, purifying the water.

Biomatrix floating ecosystems, showing how the ecosystem supports wildlife.

The project will enhance the success of five eco-spaces already created in the harbour, including Harbourside Reedbed at Hannover Quay, Millennium Promenade Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) and Bathurst Basin Reedbed.

The location for this and design is supported by evidence in the Biodiversity in Bristol’s Floating Harbour report (2022), the harbour Environmental DNA (eDNA) survey and Bristol ecological network mapping.

The construction uses materials carefully selected for recycled content and only non-toxic materials are used. Once grown, the system is typically 60% living biomass and 30% marine engineered materials. The proposed pontoon is steel framed, it uses polystyrene marine floats with a hardwood deck-board finish. The location on the water is shown on the image below and held in place with mooring cleats and sunken chains.

The pontoon will be connected to the existing bridgehead (formerly used by ferries), and accessible by a gated footway ramp to match the pontoons. There will be service pedestals and emergency cabinets (lifebuoy, fire extinguisher, etc) on the pontoon, and a floating washroom facility alongside the harbour wall.

Community involvement includes educational visits for local schools and citizen science projects using technology such as underwater cameras.

We are writing to local residents to make them aware of the planning submission and provide more information about the plans.

Welcoming wildlife home: St George Park Lake reopens

Councillor Ellie King, standing on the ramp of Bristol City Hall smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, cabinet member for public health and communities.

Making safe spaces for nature, and giving people better opportunities to learn more about our diverse ecosystem is so important for the health and wellbeing of the city.

Since 1970, 60 per cent of wild invertebrate and up to 76 per cent of insects have been lost globally. When we announced our Ecological Emergency in 2020, we committed to doing as much as we could to bring back this lost wildlife to communities in Bristol. Through investment in projects such as St George Park Lake, we hope to provide more habitats for animal and plant life to flourish in our city.

St George Park Lake has reopened to the public after restoration, repair and enhancement works. I am sure people will enjoy strolling around the lake and spotting all the changes and over time looking out for new wildlife who will make this their home.

The lake reopens after a £400,000 investment to restore the facilities for Bristol residents and visitors to enjoy, and to make improvements to benefit the local wildlife. The restoration has made the area more attractive for birds, bats, insects, frogs, and other wildlife as well as improving the ecology on the island in the lake, where the wildfowl nest and rear their young each year. The new boardwalk dipping platform will be a great place for children and school groups to get closer to nature and learn all about Bristol’s beautiful and diverse natural world.

Image of the newly refurbished St George Lake. The new pathway is visible on the right of the image.

Residents and visitors will notice a range of enhancements in and around the lake designed to improve accessibility for everyone and complement the natural environment. These include; completely new and safer pathways, a new amphitheatre area for outdoor performances, and new bird and bat boxes. Information boards about the history, biodiversity and ecology of the lake will also be installed by end of the year.

In the next couple of months planting will take place on the island to improve ground cover and add to the plant diversity for birds and pollinators. Fencing around the amphitheatre area will remain in place until the newly planted grass is fully established. A number of repairs have also been done behind the scenes to make sure this important Victorian lake can be enjoyed by future generations. These include strengthening the lake walls, desilting the lake, improving drainage and putting in new benches.

Newly refurbished St George Lake. In the foreground of the image is the new pathway.

The silt removed from the lake was used to help build the new amphitheatre, but has also been used to create new natural wetland areas full of marginal and aquatic plant species where wildfowl, amphibious creatures and insects can thrive. Birds, bees, frogs, and pond micro-beasts, such as water-boatmen and pond-skaters will likely-benefit in the short-term, but in the future it is hoped, dragonflies, damselflies, newts, and bats too, will come to enjoy the new mini-wetland habitat.

To read more about how the council is managing our green spaces for the benefit of wildlife , visit the council’s website.

£95,000 for groups taking climate and nature action

Councillor Kye Dudd, stands in the foreground of the image smiling, with a blue suit and red tie. In the background are trees and grass with two blurred out people on his right wearing a red and blue coat.
Today’s blog is by Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Energy, and Waste.

A total of 25 Bristol community groups and non-profit organisations have been offered grants of up to £5,000 towards their work reducing carbon emissions or supporting nature recovery in our city.

Some of the applicants that have been offered a grant include Ambition Lawrence Weston, Bristol Somali Youth Voice, WECIL, Filwood Residents Group, Horfield Methodist Church, and Easton Community Children’s Centre.

I’m delighted that so many community organisations, some which often don’t get access to this kind of funding, were able to apply for – and win – a grant to enable the brilliant work they’ve been doing across the city. The breadth of applications received demonstrates that the climate emergency is a city-wide concern, and communities all across Bristol are taking climate action.

The grants form part of the council’s overall programme in response to the climate and ecological emergencies; they sit alongside the council reducing its own climate footprint, improving its land for nature and big investments in infrastructure for the future of the city.

As part of our One City Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategies, we invited groups and not-for-profit organisations working to apply for a grant of up to £5,000 support the work they’re doing to either reduce emissions that cause climate change, or makes changes that benefit wildlife in Bristol.

We announced the grants earlier this year with an online Q&A session, which was followed up by an outreach programme of events across our city. The outreach work aimed to make the grants accessible to all communities and those often excluded from funding opportunities.

Applicants had to demonstrate that their activities from their grant would result in either:

  • a clear reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, for example by encouraging a switch to means of transport that don’t use fossil fuels, making community services less reliant on fossil fuels, or encouraging reuse or repair activities
  • physical changes that benefit wildlife in Bristol, for example through improving an area of land for wildlife or creating a new area of wildlife habitat
In the foreground of the image you can see 5 rows of black solar panels that are placed on a roof f a building on Temple Street. In the background you can see a row of building including St Mary Redcliffe church that pokes out above the rest of the buildings, with trees in-between. A blue sky with a few small clouds is at the top of the photo.
Solar panels on Temple Street

Since being the first city in the UK to declare both climate and ecological emergencies, we’ve worked tirelessly to bring the whole city on board to meet the challenges these crises bring. There’s already hugely impressive work going on in the city, but to meet our ambitious targets of being climate neutral by 2030, we need everyone in the city to play their part. From businesses signing up to the Bristol Climate Ask and declaring their net zero ambitions, to individuals making changes to their lifestyles, and community groups, such as the successful applicants to the grant.

I’m looking forward to visiting some of these projects and hearing how the funding has made a difference.

If you’re feeling inspired to start taking climate action and making space for nature, Bristol Climate Hub has ideas and suggestions for individuals, companies and communities.

Launching ‘Keep Bristol Cool’


An overview image of Bristol Harbour, with building covering the centre and left side of the image. On the right of the image the harbour sits with the sun reflecting of the surface, with boats lining the dock and one boat going through the water. In the background the sun clears through the skies with a silhouette of the hills in the background
Bristol Harbour with the sun setting

This summer we have witnessed record-breaking hot weather in the UK. We saw the first red weather warning for extreme heat, with temperatures reaching record high of 36 degrees locally. Throughout the last week we had another official amber warning of extreme heat with temperatures consistently in the mid-30s.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense, creating unique challenges for cities such as Bristol. Urban heat risks affect everything from health to the environment, transport to telecommunications, as well as creating increased demand for cool places.

Bristol is responding to these challenges through innovation. After becoming the first city in the UK to declare climate and ecological emergencies, we are leading the way in decarbonising our city, reducing Bristol’s emissions by over 40% since 2005. Keep Bristol Cool is the next pioneering tool to help our city become more climate resilient.

Keep Bristol Cool

Keep Bristol Cool is our new mapping tool that highlights which areas of our city are most vulnerable to extreme heat.

The mapping tool was made possible by the UK Climate Resilience Programme and Met Office Urban Climate Service team.

We are the first city in the UK to develop an online tool of this kind, using data on current heat vulnerability and climate change to explore where heatwaves could have the biggest impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

The tool allows users to explore how heat vulnerability varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood by bringing together information on population, homes, and local environment. Climate maps explore how the number of warm nights and hot days are predicted to change over the next twenty years and beyond.

We’ve worked to refine this tool to see how it could help protect vulnerable people during heatwaves, support the development of green infrastructure strategies, make homes less likely to overheat, and aid the longer-term growth and regeneration of the city.

The image shows the Keep Bristol Cool Mapping Tool, the image on the left shows the wards of Bristol with different shades of red used as the key for the different figures. On the right the text reads Heat Vulnerability Index, A combination of Age, Deprivation, Indoor and Outdoor heat vulnerability factors. Dark red very high risk for Bristol 211-263, less dark red High risk for Bristol 158-210, lesser red, low risk for Bristol 53-105, very low risk for Bristol 1-52.
The new Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool

Innovating resilience

The mapping tool is a key step in Bristol’s resilience journey. A framework will follow that builds on the commitments set out in the One City Climate Strategy to become a climate resilient city by 2030: Setting out a programme of work that builds our resilience to higher temperatures and heatwaves across key areas including city planning, emergency planning, housing and the natural environment.

Working together

To reach our climate goals by 2030 and to safeguard the city against extreme heat, our city needs to work together. The Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool will offer service-providers, businesses and organisations across the city the opportunity to use this tool to help with their future planning.

We want to share this work and approach with other cities in the UK, we will work with closely with colleagues at the Local Government Association City and Regions board, improving the resilience of the UK to deal with extreme weather events and long-term trends in our city planning.

Bristol Climate Action

This year’s record-breaking temperatures have made many of us feel more anxious about the climate and ecological emergencies that we face. There are examples of Bristol residents who are making changes to their lives On Bristol Climate Hub, take a look and learn about their inspiring stories.

You can also donate to the Tree Crowd Funder – to help us double Bristol’s tree canopy – which will provide valuable shade in years to come.