Castlemartin Peninsula – Integrating Natural and Social Resources

cascade-ADAS-sidebyside

Castlemartin Peninsula, on the South Westerly tip of Pembrokeshire (See fig 1) is a 2429 acre estates that has been under the control of the Army since 1938 and owned by the Army since 1948. Public access the Castlemartin Peninsula has been and still is restricted. Access to the East Range is signalled by red flags and access to the West Range is controlled by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The flat topography of the area allows easy access for cyclists and walkers and the beaches at Freshwater West, facing the Atlantic sea and the more sheltered Freshwater East are renown for surfing and water sport activities. The Castlemartin Peninsula has a protected status in some form for most of the areas (seen in fig 2) and the protection ranges from Nitrate Vulnerable Zones to Sites of Scientific Special Interests

The Castlemartin Peninsula Project was instigated by the six main project partners comprising of The National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, Pembroke 21C Community Interest Company, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council, and West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWRIC), and was submitted for Nature bid funding in August 2014.

The National Trust are acting as the project managers, responsible for project monitoring, financial management and evaluation. There are several land owners involved within the project of which the main ones being – The National Trust, The Ministry of Defence, Valero and 3 main farms.

Castlemartin Peninsula Pembrokeshire

Figure 1 Castlemartin Peninsula Pembrokeshire

Castlemartin Peninsula Priority Sites

Figure 2 Castlemartin Peninsula shaded areas signify protected sites

 The project is set within the Pembrokeshire Coast Nature Action Zone covering the Castlemartin Peninsula in South Pembrokeshire with a project life of approximately 6 months. This case study has been undertaken during month 3 of the project, thus the final outcomes of the original project will only be available to assess following completion of the whole project.

There are several strands to this project involving:

Web mapping creating new layers of information on habitats and species on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) online together with potential for connectivity improvements.

Undertaking capital work for improving freshwater and dune catchments

On farm work looking at nutrient management and prevention of silt entering watercourses.

Study of de silting techniques and creating new weirs for reducing silt deposition entering the watercourses.

Involve community engagement and utilise local labour for capital works and for skill training in environmental conservation, and to disseminate information on project work and environmental benefits to the local community.

Create a project “toolkit” to translate goals into potential new environmental projects in the future.

The main aim of the Castlemartin Peninsula Project is to:

  • Strengthen collaboration and improve partnership working, with the potential to create 1.2Full time employees (FTE) and safeguard jobs (3 FTE)
  • Engage with local communities to provide training skills on countryside management on land under private and third sector management
  • To provide more evidence based information on digital mapping for habitats and improve the connectivity between habitats located within the Castel martin Peninsula. The enhanced mapping should enable better targeting of areas for selective improvements e.g. Pollinator habitats, species distribution, connectivity of habitats
  • To reduce sediment and silt loss from agricultural and other land areas to watercourses and to look at innovative ways of reducing silt losses.
  • To look at the potential to balance nutrient and fertiliser use on farm , thus reducing potential diffuse losses and saving farmers money on purchased nutrients and improve water quality in the targeted catchments
  • To improve various habitats by clearing scrub and invasive plants and to spread pollinator plants and native species which will prevent soil erosion and provide better habitats for the indicator species, both in freshwater and coastal habitats
  • To disseminate information to the local community and businesses of the benefits of the project and effects on the environment and to help deliver additional 1500 volunteer hours and to establish the potential for a sustainable agricultural association

The concept for the Castlemartin Peninsula Project was identified from a need to improve the mapping information available to the members of the partnership on habitats and connectivity issues identified in 2011.

The opportunity to put the project together with the aim of securing a successful Nature bid funding, was discussed between various organisations, with the potential to improve targeted habitats within the peninsula as identified from previous work undertaken by members of the partnership. Working together as a group of organisations, and pooling thoughts and ideas on improving the environmental quality and features within the peninsula, was seen as a positive step of creating a positive vision for future developments.

Creating stronger links with the local communities and to involve local people engaging with conservation and environmental projects both for skills enhancement and for voluntary work is seen as an important concept to be used in the future. The value of the contribution of knowledge transfer and community engagement, towards PES for as not been assessed in this case study as it is difficult to apportion the cost benefit contribution towards nitrates, compared to other cost benefits associated with provision of data and biodiversity enhancement.

It is not clear how this project will measure and quantify the impact of using prevention methods to reduce the loss of sediment and nutrients to the watercourses. Statutory water quality monitoring, as undertaken by NRW, could show changes in water quality but this may not reflect the changes that occur at an individual site or farm level. The current WFD water quality status is shown in Fig 3. Site specific non statutory water quality monitoring or biological assessment could be undertaken but there is a cost associated with this.

Castlemartin Peninsula WFD

Figure 3 Water Framework Directive Classification for Castlemartin area (NRW Water Framework Directive monitoring)

One possible solution would be to use remote sensing data capture method such as radar or satellite imagery. This approach could monitor changes in land use, management, pollution and the effectiveness of habitat creation over a long period of time. The frequency of the monitoring could range from every 6 days to a few times a year depending on the season and the information required.

This multi-facetted project was not originally put together with the thought of Eco banking, but more so with community engagement , creating and maintaining jobs, improving habitats , skill enhancement, preventing nutrient and sediment losses to watercourses, and to provide more information on digital mapping on connectivity, habitats and species within the peninsula . However there are several parameters that could have potential to support a “payment of ecosystem service in the future and examples of future development include

The reduction of sediment to the waters of the catchment. This could be equated as sediment weight per hectare (kg/ha) of catchment or potential releases to the rivers as sediment weight per cumec of river flow. The activities undertaken at the three farms could reduce the loss of sediment to the river by instigating appropriate mitigation measures such as reducing access by stock, inclusion of sediment traps at strategic locations or inclusion of buffer strips with the riparian zone. The question of who pays for the mitigation methods to be undertaken cannot be answered at this stage but the Visitor Payment Scheme may be an option.

The monitoring of the impact of the pollution prevention/mitigation measures could be assessed using various model based calculator tools. The use of Farmscoper which is currently used to monitor the performance of mitigation measures within the First Milk model (see Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum case studies) could be used for the farms currently participating in this study. Data collection and validation through audits by a third party, as used within the First Milk model, could also be a relevant consideration. The advantage of FarmScoper in this instance would be

  • The ability to benchmark existing farm performance
  • Provide a future potential saving target if all mitigation measures, which are voluntarily agreed with the landowner, are accepted
  • The establishment of a target saving or “goal” in kilograms of nitrates
  • The provision of possible mitigation measures which may be give rise to savings in nitrates that have not been considered

 

An example of the measures that achieve a high level of nitrate savings as highlighted in FarmScoper are seen in Figure 4.

Castlemartin Figure Four

Figure 4 Nitrate reducing mitigation measures as identified in Farmscoper

Understanding the needs of cropping and the required nutrients to enable an optimum crop yield through soil analysis and nutrient management planning is an important tool for minimising the use of fertilisers and ensuring that the soil maintains an optimum pH. This approach is currently included in the Glastir Agri environment scheme for the protection of water quality priority areas in accordance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD Water Framework Directive UK). Nutrient management planning can have a direct benefit for the farmer as fertiliser, both inorganic and organic, are only applied to land where it is fully utilised by the crop and reducing the leaching of nutrients to the river. The reduction in nitrates loss is beneficial for the farmer and for the environment.

There is a cost benefit associated with the efficient use of organic fertilisers can be compared to the cost of the commercial merchant figures for fertiliser price (17 March 2015) is seen in Table 1.

Table 1: Average commercial price for fertiliser march 2015

Casltemartin Peninsula table 1

Nutrient management planning has been used in the Llys y Fran Reservoir project, for Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Natural resources Wales and Afonydd Cymru/Pembrokeshire Rivers Trust and in the First Milk Nutrient Efficiency case study

The aim of the Llys y Fran Reservoir project was to reduce the risk of Blue Green Algal Blooms by minimising the losses of nitrates and phosphorous to the Eastern Cleddau and Llys Y Fran Reservoir. Nutrient management within the catchment is one of many methods that can be used to improve water quality of both surface and ground water and would be applicable in the Cleddau and Haven Catchment. The main cost implication is for soil sampling, soil analysis and interpretation of the soil analysis results in relation the future cropping needs.

There are several cases studies of improving water quality by modifying activities in the catchment as seen with South West Water “Upstream thinking” (Upstream thinking). This approach was developed in 2008 and aims to improve the water quality of water abstracted for potable supply before it enters the water treatment works. The improvement in water quality is offset against the potable supply treatment costs. The success of this project has allowed OFWAT to release £9.1 million between 2010 and 2015.

Table 2: Capital expenditure costs (£m) 2010-2015

Casltemartin Peninsula table 2

Source: OFWAT Report 2010 2015 Future Water and Sewage Charges

The OFWAT report (OFWAT is the water services regulatory body) (OFWAT Report 2010 2015 Future Water and Sewage Charges) stated that the expenditure for the drinking water quality and environmental and other obligations, offer an indication of cost of nitrate removal as extracted in fig 6. In this pricing round OFWAT have included an additional Capital Expenditure Incentive Scheme (CIS) whereby water companies are incentivised to

The companies proposed investment of £1.4 million on water quality and 34.1 billion on environmental quality. The CIS baseline allowed investment of £1.1 billion on drinking water and £3.4 billion on environmental quality. The lack of supporting data was cited as one reason why some projects were not supported in this round of funding

The United Utilities SCAMP programme to improve habitats in the Peak District is funded by the water company customers. The Asset Management Planning (AMP) programme funding stream would have identified a proportion of the customer’s bill to finance schemes selected in the AMP programme and the funding allocation is set by OFWAT and stated in the OFWAT report. The water companies may be a potential buyer if the catchment is within a source protection zone area. There is a potential to look at the potential of Eco banking for future projects especially around nutrients losses, habitat improvements, and water quality improvements.

A potential buyer of nitrate credits could be found in the power companies. In the environment report for N Power the SOX and NOX emissions are increasing per unit of output as seen in Figure 5. N Power may be looking to reduce these emissions at source but nitrate offsetting could be seen as one of many potential method to reduce environmental impact.

Castlemartin Peninsula Figure 5

Figure 5 SOx and NOx emission from UK Generation in N Power CSR report 2013 (Npower SOX NOX emmissions.docx)

Future changes in legislation or government policy could mean that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) may be required to offset some of its environment impact that arises as part of carrying out its duties and this could bring an opportunity for eco offsetting for the MOD.

The delivery participants within the project comprises of the six main organisations – The National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, Pembroke 21C Community Interest Company, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council, West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC).

Other organisations or participants within the project being – Ministry of Defence, RWE npower, Baker Brothers, Valero and 3 main farmers. The landowners, where capital projects or habitat improvements are done, are The National Trust, Valero, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and some private landowners. The capital cost of the improvement work is not known.

Challenges

Few barriers have been encountered in developing this project as all of the participating members have shared the same vision of improving the environmental habitats within the area. The same can be said for participating landowners, as the vision for the project has been shared by all.

Community involvement together with waiting for the permission to start has been the most challenging aspects experienced within the project. Costing up the capital spend and costs associated with the project takes a considerable amount of time beforehand during project inception which is a major part of the “development stage” and an important voluntary time input required to start any new project.

Due to the short time scale of the project and claim stages to adhere to, it has found to be a considerable rushed exercise to achieve some of the deliverables within the project.

Possible Resolutions

Due to the delay in time between submission of the project and approval, the work did not commence on what was thought to be the ideal time. It is thought that community engagement would have been better targeted at the start of the project , as all other work involving capital spend , habitat improvements digital mapping and nutrient work were undertaken by staff and people who were directly involved with the project and it’s aims.

Many Payment for Ecosystem Service projects report that there is often an under estimation of the time required to engage with site interested groups. There were some time constraints for this project and two lessons learned are to make contact with community groups earlier and start promoting the project aims earlier so that awareness of what is going on is disseminated form the outset. However as this project is a short term project with gaining new knowledge on mapping as one of its principal aims it has been difficult to cram in all the work in such a short time span.

At present no credit valuation has been undertaken on the project as it is at the half way stage and it is not known how the outcomes of the Castlemartin Project will be measured when the project is completed. The impact of the mitigation measures, which will reduce nutrients and sediments losses to the watercourse, could be evaluated using various calculating tools, water quality monitoring or biological monitoring. When the mapping and capital works have been completed, The National Trust intend producing a final report and appraisal of the project.

The value of payments should reflect the economic response curve for nutrients across a range of contexts and be cost-effective for the offset buyer who will also need to make a financial case for action. While we can use benefits transfer to ‘value’ the environmental benefits secured by mitigation, it is more practical to quantify additional costs / income forgone as a result of mitigation as a basis for estimating the funding need. Payments need to account for transaction costs as well as trading costs and have some element of ‘return’ to incentivise change. Buyers will need to allow for the operational costs of the scheme (including monitoring and evaluation).

The emphasis of the Castlemartin approach on building links with land managers and supporting them to undertake cost-effective mitigation is key. This is a long-term approach, winning hearts and minds so that actions taken can deliver environmental benefits without recourse to ongoing initiatives and the necessary bureaucracy involved. The challenge is that when the ‘easy wins’ have been secured through adoption of good practice, the next level of mitigation might require greater economic incentive and this is where the PES opportunity lies. Integrating the wider engagement process and any PES initiative would be key in order to provide a coherent offer.

From a buyer’s perspective, the Castlemartin approach in regard to improving water quality is not well defined at this point. A key challenge is that water quality is just one element of a broader initiative which ideally would include securing buyers for the other elements delivered. While there is a consensus that knowledge transfer and community engagement are useful components of delivering change, there is limited economic analysis to draw on e.g. cost benefit studies. Evaluation studies which consider the value for money of public programmes that deliver incremental change often rely on estimates of additionality which very hard to substantiate.

There is the opportunity in the future to look at the value of Ecobanking projects in terms of giving participating farmers a return on the value of their nutrient and sediment reductions which have been reduced on farm. The savings in these instances could be measure in kg per farm, kg per catchment or kg per hectare. The potential parameters that could be evaluated are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sediment, greed house gases along with other modelled criteria. A cost benefit analysis of undertaking the land management changes is often cited as a measure of change.

There is also an opportunity to look at the potential of using tourists as a potential voluntary funding source for new habitat and connectivity creation within the area which would enhance the heritage, visual attraction, and desirability of the area as a return tourist destination in the future.

Discussions with large landowners and Commercial firms in the area who would like to show a strong affinity on improving their environmental credentials could be persuaded to help fund new habitats and connectivity areas which have been identified as areas which would improve biodiversity within the area.

Therefore there are several routes which could be of use in developing PES systems for improving the general environment and biodiversity within the Castlemartin peninsula.

The Castlemartin Peninsula project is a short term project which has been funded within the last Nature bid round by the Welsh Assembly. The project was originally put together as a project suitable for a Nature funding bid with the Welsh Assembly which would encompass several issues which had been identified by participating members within the consortium. Ecobanking was not thought of as being part of the project original bid, with the main part of the project looking at direct positive actions which had been identified as requiring undertaking in the short term.

The final conclusions derived from the project will be produced by the National Trust when the project finishes in June 2015. It is thought that the mapping work will identify areas where connectivity issues will aid habitat and species improvement work in the future. Therefore this will provide valuable information as to potential new projects which could instigated and costed in the future.