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Binnies: Burton Washlands Scheme

The Burton Washlands scheme set out to reimagine how the Washlands could be used more effectively as existing design and management were producing sub-par outcomes, failing to ameliorate the impacts of flood incidents.

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  • What we know
  • What we’re doing
  • What it’s worth

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Areas designated as recreational spaces and amenity parklands were commonly under water.

Binnies led the identification, development and implementation of measures to improve the provision of ecosystem services though naturalistic approaches.

The projected results included new and improved wetland habitats, improved access, and stronger connections between the town and the Washlands, which was assisted by improved environmental interpretation and education facilities.

What we know

A natural capital approach is valuable for understanding and quantifying the benefits a project can have using nature-based solutions, such as creating and restoring habitats that in turn provide a multitude of ecosystem services.

Natural capital assessments take stock of the existing environment and how various habitats and other natural features contribute benefits and, where possible and appropriate, consider these benefits in terms of their economic value. This knowledge can then be used to guide project decisions, for example through cost/benefit analysis.

The Burton Washlands is a 630-ha floodplain in the heart of Burton upon Trent, containing both environmental challenges and opportunities.

Binnies (part of RSK) carried out this scheme which focused on collaborative ‘place-making’ to strengthen connections between people, places, and nature, maximising shared value. The aim was to balance regular, natural flooding of the area with the need for flood risk management, public access and recreation, while promoting nature conservation and an environmentally sustainable approach to green space management [source].

What we’re doing

A landscape vision was developed by Binnies which prioritised working collaboratively with key stakeholders, including the local community.

Digital natural capital accounting approaches were used to inform decision making and support the case for funding. The vision has taken a holistic approach, focusing not on a single key aim but instead seeking to maximise and combine goals concerning flood management, nature and conservation, access and recreation, and local history and heritage.

The scheme represents a partnership between the East Staffordshire Borough Council and the Environment Agency, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the National Forest and Trent Rivers Trust. A key aim at all stages has been responding to feedback from residents and stakeholders.

illustration of three birds in navy

What it’s worth

The scheme is linked to the larger £20m Burton Flood Risk Management Scheme, adding numerous nature-based co-benefits to a project already delivering flood risk prevention.

The Washlands scheme is transforming the area into a natural oasis, unlocking environmental, economic and social value while addressing challenges of flood risk, health deprivation, water quality and climate change.

The natural capital assessment valued the scheme’s nature restoration at £2.66m over a 40-year lifetime, which attracted an investment of £2.5m. This clearly communicated the benefits of the project which led to consent being secured within 3 months of publication


The landscape vision for the Burton Washlands enabled the landscape to be looked at holistically and will maximise the value of the Washlands for people and wildlife. It has created a process of dialogue and collaboration across disciplines and organisations and now provides the platform to explore the best delivery opportunities available.”

Tim Brooks MCIEEM Environment Planning Specialist, Environment Agency