A SCHEME to improve wildlife habitats and water quality on the gathering grounds of some of the north west’s reservoirs has won two national ecology awards.

United Utilities’ Sustainable Catchment Management Programme was the winner of two best practice awards from The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management – for Outstanding Innovation and Outstanding Achievement in Practical Nature Conservation.

Philip Austin, SCaMP programme manager at United Utilities, said: “The judges recognised just how novel our approach was and how the programme is bringing tangible benefits for wildlife and water quality on our upland catchments. Our programme draws together conservation experts, water specialists, farmers and regulators to work in partnership on a common goal – widescale landscape restoration.

"By making changes such as building new farm buildings, reducing grazing impacts, planting woodland, stabilising soils and restoring blanket bog, we are not only making a huge difference to wildlife and the landscape but we’re taking the first pioneering steps in halting decades of decline in water quality.

"Everyone wins, including our water customers who should see the benefits of reduced water treatment costs in the future. It is not a quick fix, but things are certainly beginning to move in the right direction.”

The SCaMP programme began in 2005 and by 2015 United Utilities will have invested £22 million. /ends