About the Somerset Catchment Market

How and why the Somerset Catchment Market was created.


introduction

The Somerset Catchment Market (“the Market”) Pilot is one of a series of Catchment Markets that Wessex Water is developing, in response to a request from Defra and its agencies for innovative projects that could contribute to a Green Economic Recovery.


purpose

The Market provides a place where willing sellers can come together with willing buyers to make mutually beneficial deals. Sellers (for example, farmers) can offer to supply nature-based projects – for instance, new wetlands or woodlands - which have been formally accredited for the services they will provide, including:

  • Nutrient reductions
  • Carbon storage
  • Biodiversity net gain
  • Natural flood risk reduction

On the other side of the market, buyers – for example, housing developers - who need these services can agree prices to buy the individual level of service they require. They do not need to buy whole projects, which could lead to them paying for credits that they do not need, nor do they have to seek out lots of separate projects to match their total need.

The Market is founded on three key principles to ensure benefits to all its participants:

  • Efficiency
  • Trustworthiness
  • Fairness

Why

Nature-based projects can provide the same services for the environment that traditional engineering solutions do. But they provide so much more as well. By creating a well-governed market that allows these services to be reliably accounted for, Wessex Water aims to make it more attractive for nature-based projects to be developed, and more efficient for buyers of environmental services to use the credits they provide. The market will then be a major part of promoting a Green Economic Recovery.


Where

The pilot phase of the Market will focus on buying Nature-based Projects and selling Phosphorus mitigation and Carbon credits in two broad areas of the Somerset Levels and Moors, namely the catchments of the Rivers Tone, Isle, Upper and Middle Parrett and the River Yeo (Shaded Areas 1 to 5 in the map below). If the Pilot phase is successful, the Market will extend its activities across the whole of the Somerset Levels and Moors Catchment.

Subcatchment Map

When

Every year, the Market plans to operate three major events and a series of enabling events.

The first planned event is an enabling event, aimed at farmers only, to purchase cover crop and arable reversion credits in the Pilot areas. This will launch on 27 July and run until 15 August.

The first major event – Market Round 1 for permanent projects and credits – is planned for later in the summer, depending on the process of finalising some legal agreements with Local Planning Authorities. This event will be the first to involve bidding by developers, it will also include bids from farmers wishing to supply woodland and wetland projects.

The second major event – Market Round 2 for permanent projects and credits – will cover the whole of the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment, it is forecast to open in January 2022.

Full details of the schedule of events, and links to the information for each event, can be found on the Market Events section of this site.


How

This website gives full details of how the Market will operate and what participants can expect. Please visit the other sections of the site for more information.


legal status

As a consequence of its governance and robust Rules, the Market can meet the requirements for Somerset Local Planning Authorities to recognise it as a nutrient credit scheme.This will mean that Phosphorus credits issued via the Market can be used to demonstratenutrient neutrality for developments affecting the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar catchment

The process for gaining formal approval as a nutrient credit scheme is underway.


independent oversight

The documents, templates and procedures on this website have been approved by a Steering Group set-up to govern participation and operation of the Market.

Steering Group Members
Environment Agency
Wessex Water
Natural England

The Market builds on Wessex Water’s work with farmers to make deals for land management that deliver a range of environmental services both in its own catchments, and in other parts of England. The over-arching document to govern the Market is the Catchment Market Rules.


Key Participants

Market Operator

The Steering Group has appointed EnTrade (a subsidiary of Wessex Water’s parent organisation) to operate the market within the Market Rules. EnTrade will set up the systems to gather and communicate market information, and ensure that market processes are administered smoothly and efficiently.

Farmers – key Suppliers in the Market

Farmers and other land managers are key to supply the market. Our guidance page has a section for Project Suppliers, to outline the processes and agreements that would be in place if you took part in the market.

Developers – key Buyers in the Market

Housing developers are the key market participants when it comes to buying credits for the environmental services provided by the projects supplied by farmers. We have prepared a comprehensive set of evidence with Local Planning Authorities that will enable you to buy credits for nutrient neutrality that meet Habitats Regulation Assessment requirements in a one-stop-shop. The Credit Buyers’ section of the guidance page shows what is required and what you can expect from taking part in the market.

Wessex Water Limited – an Investor to underwrite risks

Using Nature-based projects to provide accredited services for legal compliance is a relatively new concept. The Market Rules and governance ensure that there is a high degree of certainty in what is being provided in the Market. As a further insurance, Wessex Water Limited – the parent company of the regional water supply and sewerage company, Wessex Water Services Limited - will be the contracting party with project suppliers. They are taking on the risk of underperformance as a Project Investor. The financial stability and major reputational stake that Wessex Water has in the region gives confidence that payments will be made on time and credit supply will always be in place.