Defra | Bath

Using natural habitats for sustainable waste water treatment: a PES approach

Defra Wessex Water


Following government objectives to develop a sustainable green economy, the Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme balances the gains of the ecosystem buyer and seller with those of the natural environment.

Wessex Water wanted to reduce costs and improve its environmental performance; the Environment Agency wanted to ensure environmental water quality objectives were met; the Tortworth Estate wanted to ensure the future quality of its freshwater fishing lakes.

Providing expertise in environmental regulations, surveying and impact assessment, Engain joined forces with a team of scientists from Bath Spa University to lead a pilot project for Defra’s PES scheme. We created an Integrated Constructed Wetland (ICW), using natural habitats for sustainable water treatment, on a privately owned rural estate in South Gloucestershire. The pilot’s delivery involved input from other specialist parties, including an Environment Agency representative.


  • Succesful ICW development on a farming estate
  • Enhancement of an important UK ecosystem
  • More efficient improvement of water quality
  • Resilience to effects on sewerage infrastructure from predicted climate impacts
  • Successful Defra PES pilot project delivery
  • International peer review publication.

Partners & Stakeholders

  • Defra
  • Wessex Water
  • Environment Agency
  • Tortworth Estate Company
  • Bath Spa University
  • Bristol Avon Rivers Trust
  • RM Wetlands & Environment

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