Future Fenland project

An integrated water resource management strategy based on the Fenland rivers

For many years Anglian Water has worked in partnership with a number of organisations, including Business in the Community, to help regenerate the Fenland town of Wisbech in NE Cambridgeshire, focusing on the social challenges of better transport connectivity and much-needed housing, and addressing high levels of flood risk in an area where much of the land is below sea level.  


The ambitious Future Fenland initiative, currently under development in a cross-sector partnership involving Anglian Water, Water Resources East, the Environment Agency, Royal Haskoning DHV and many regional partners, builds on this successful approach and takes it on to a new level. It offers the opportunity to manage land and water across the Fens in a new and integrated way to deliver sustainable growth and environmental prosperity at the same time as adapting to climate change. 


The Future Fenland strategy combines flood risk management including upgraded coastal defences, barriers and barrages with new open water transfers and multi-sector reservoirs, with the goals of unlocking economic growth, new housing and greater transport links, as well as helping to restore nature. It promises to deliver climate change resilience to nationally important agricultural areas and of course to many Fenland communities. 


New multi-sector reservoirs could provide additional water supply resilience for water companies, farmers and the food industry, and improve the water environment; while downstream flood barriers or barrages would protect growth areas in the Fens, enabling key local infrastructure projects such as a rail connection from Wisbech to Cambridge and the dualling of the A47 to move forward, and open water channels for nature and biodiversity, tourism and navigation, as well as further water storage and flood risk management benefits.


Future Fenland offers the opportunity to manage land and water across the Fens in a new and integrated way. Doing so will secure the future of the peat landscape.


Next steps for the project will see a cross-sector ‘Task Force’ created, combining public and private sector interests, to develop a detailed scope of works.


Future Fenland is a radical and ambitious approach to tackling the combined challenges of population growth and climate change, delivering not just increased resilience but long-term growth in environmental and social prosperity for the East of England. It is hoped that it will act as a model to inspire others across the UK and beyond, as organisations seek to build a more sustainable future in the wake of the worldwide impact of Covid-19.


Peter Simpson, CEO, Anglian Water

The Future Fenland project looks at the potential to combine flood defence with the provision of water for public supply, energy and agriculture and the opportunity for social regeneration and sustainable new housing as a result. It’s this kind of holistic thinking which is unlocking new opportunity which simply wouldn’t have been there before.