During three weeks over the summer, Sylva Foundation helped deliver a unique ‘reverse’ auction to support a range of natural flood management measures in Somerset.
Building on the technologies developed with the University of Oxford’s Long Term Ecology Lab (EU LIFE+ project NaturEtrade), the online auction tool allowed landowners to bid for funding to help deliver a selection of Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures: Maize Management; Grassland Sub-Soiling; Leaky Structures (leaky dams); Hedge Planting; Soil Bunds and Leaky Ponds, and; Hedge Planting on Bunds.
Landowners could select locations on their farm in which they could implement these measures, and the tool enabled them to bid for an amount of funding they considered necessary to deliver these. The lowest, or most competitive, bids – hence a ‘reverse’ auction – would receive funding from Somerset Rivers Authority.
How did the auction work?
The auction allowed landowners to bid for funding to construct and maintain one, or multiple, NFM measures on their land. To do this, each user could bid for an amount of funding for the bundle of measures they wished to implement. The tool indicated whether their bid was ‘selected’, which meant that it would currently qualify for funding. This could change if other users submitted lower bids (i.e. will implement measures for less money). If a user’s bid changed from ‘selected’ to ‘unselected’, they would be notified via email, and they could then lower their bid if they wished to do so.
Funding to develop the technology was provided by the Environment Agency, and support for the auction itself was given by the Farm Wildlife Advisory Group, which liaised with landowners on the ground.
Outcomes from the pilot run over the summer are currently being assessed by Environment Agency and partners. Emma Claydon of Environment Agency, said:
“This summer’s pilot online ‘reverse’ auction was a fascinating first attempt at exploring this novel approach to achieving environmental outcomes as well as better value for public money. We will be analysing the outcomes to see how the tool can be improved for future uses.”
Although the auction is now closed, the website is still live, and contains further information about the auction, including FAQs: https://nfmea.sylva.org.uk