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Green projects given support to attract private sector investment

Monday June 1st, 2020

New investment approach announced to involve private sector in environmental projects, helping to tackle climate change and restore nature.Government Opportunities

Four projects which will protect and restore valuable habitats have been selected to receive funding in a pilot scheme to encourage sustainable private sector investment in our natural environment.

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) and Triodos Bank UK have formed a collaboration to support environmental projects to create sustainable funding models.

Having been sourced and evaluated by Triodos Bank UK the projects will receive grant funding from Defra, the EA and EFF to support their development, complete business plans to attract private sector investment, and deliver long-term environmental benefits and sustainable financial returns.

The four projects receiving funding are:

Devon Wildlife Trust’s restoration of the Caen wetlands

Rivers Trust’s work on natural flood management in the Wyre catchment in Lancashire

NFU’s work to reduce nitrate pollution in Poole Harbour

Moors for the Future Partnership’s restoration and conservation of peatlands in the Pennines

The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan made clear that while the public sector will continue to be an important source of funding for the natural environment, it is critical that this is alongside more private sector investment to protect and enhance our environment.

That is why the government committed £10m in the Budget to support natural environment projects to attract private sector investment through the Natural Environment Impact Fund, from 2021.

The government and the Environment Agency are also working to ensure that our recovery from coronavirus is clean and resilient, tackling climate change and boosting nature.

In order to help project developers up and down the country attract investment, the lessons learned from these projects will also be made freely available.

Natural Flood Management in the River Wyre catchment

The use of natural flood management, including the building of leaky dams, the creation of bog, and the rewetting of peat, on 70 hectares of the River Wyre catchment by the Rivers Trust would help to reduce the frequency of flooding for a number of properties in Lancashire.

At the same time as reducing flood risk, these natural flood management schemes will create new habitats for wildlife and help to mitigate climate change through the storage of greenhouse gases in the newly created wetlands and peatlands.

The seed funding will allow The Rivers Trust to work with the Wyre Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, United Utilities, Triodos Bank UK, Co-op Insurance and Flood Re, to develop a financial instrument that would allow upfront investment from the private sector to be reimbursed by the beneficiaries of a healthier environment.

Restoration of the River Caen wetlands

Sitting on the northern bank of the River Caen, the Caen Wetlands project is a bold and innovative proposal to create a stunning habitat and visitor resource in northern Devon. The wetlands site is one of the UK’s most important sites for wetland birds but is under pressure from human impacts, climate change, and rising sea levels.

Devon Wildlife Trust has recently completed on the purchase of its 57th Nature Reserve – Horsey Island. Located in the heart of the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Horsey Island is a wildlife rich area of intertidal wetland habitats extending to over 80 hectares. Horsey borders the tidal reaches of the River Caen which flows through Braunton and out into the Taw Estuary.

Alongside the restoration of the habitat, the development of the site for ecotourism through a visitor centre and other facilities will provide a source of income, with the seed funding being used by Devon Wildlife Trust to develop a business case for investment in this project.

Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme

One of the largest natural harbours in the world, Poole Harbour in Dorset is of international importance to wildlife, being home to a vast range of aquatic life and wetland birds, including egrets, ringed plovers, and grebe.

However, as a habitat for wildlife, it is now under pressure, with nutrients such as nitrate from agriculture in its catchment flowing down into the harbour and leading to a rapid growth of algae which smothers the estuarine habitat and reduces the amount of food available for birds.

Through the Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme, the National Farmers Union (NFU) is aiming to work with and support the farmer-led collaboration in the catchment, equipping them with tools to reduce their use of nitrates.

The proposed innovative, industry-led model is designed to offer both environmental benefits and productivity gains for farming businesses. The local community, water companies and local government will all see benefits from the improved water quality.

Peatland restoration in the Pennines

Peatlands have a vital part to play in tackling climate change, storing more carbon than all other types of vegetation in the world combined, and damage to peatlands is a major source of carbon emissions.

The peatlands of the south and west Pennines are some of the most degraded in uplands in Europe, and as well as being damaged in the past by the coal-fired industry in Manchester and Sheffield, they are facing future pressure from hot summers and wet winters due to climate change.

The Moors for the Future Partnership is already working to restore and conserve peatland in the area, but needs to attract greater investment in order to carry out this work on a larger scales to protect more of this vital habitat.

It is hoped this project will be successful in developing a range of returns, including financial, for investors.

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