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Dozens of schemes receive grants of up to £100,000 to boost investment in nature

The sign at Defra headquarters in Smith Square, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 18, 2013. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
The sign at Defra headquarters in Smith Square, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 18, 2013. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Dozens of schemes from rewetting peatland to grow fibres for clothes to protecting seagrass beds are receiving funding to boost private investment in nature.

The second round of the “natural environment investment readiness fund”  from the Environment Department (Defra) and Environment Agency is providing up to £100,000 to 50 projects across England.

The funding will help environmental groups, local authorities, businesses and other organisations develop projects that protect nature and tackle climate change, to the point where they can attract private investment.

Schemes being awarded funding include:

– £100,000 for a scheme rewetting lowland peat near Doncaster to grow plant fibre material to use as padding for clothes and reducing greenhouse gases from the peatland.

The carbon credits generated from the scheme will be sold, while it will also explore “market potential” for water quality and savings, boosting nature and reducing flood risk which the project will generate.

– Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is receiving £99,851 to develop a project to enhance habitats such as tree planting and regenerating brownfield land and generate revenue by selling biodiversity credits to developers who need to provide a net gain for nature from their developments.

– Plymouth City Council is being awarded a £99,600 grant to map the potential for new surface water drainage to improve water quality and reduce flood risk, and to test a “pay by results” scheme with investors and buyers.

The council is also receiving £95,585 to attract investment in carbon-storing and wildlife-rich seagrass bed, mapping the potential for storing carbon in the beds and developing ways to allow seagrass carbon credits to be sold.

– The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire is receiving £99,836 for a scheme to rewet lowland peat on 134 hectares (330 acres) of newly acquired land as part of the Great Fen project and develop measures to sell carbon credits from it.

Companies, conservation and rewilding organisations, local authorities and farming groups are among those receiving grants under the scheme.

Lord Benyon, Minister for Green Finance, said: “Given the scale of the environmental challenges we face, including climate change and biodiversity loss, it is crucial all parts of society play a part and we attract finance from diverse sources to help support this work.

“The Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan was clear that whilst the public sector will continue to be an important source of funding, it is critical that there is more private sector investment to protect and enhance our domestic natural environment.

“Today’s announcement means we are now funding nearly 80 projects across England at the cutting edge of this ambition, creating a pipeline of projects that can be scaled and replicated elsewhere to attract more money to protect and restore the environment.”

Emma Howard Boyd, chairwoman of the Environment Agency, said: “What we learn from these projects will help the private sector invest in activities that deliver both environmental improvements and generate returns.

“By showing what works we can attract a wider pool of investors to fund work on a much larger scale that helps protect people from climate impacts and restores nature.”

Potential private investments in nature include credits for schemes that capture and store carbon such as woodland creation and peatland restoration, which can be purchased by businesses to offset emissions from their operations or supply chains.

There is also a new requirement for developers to ensure “biodiversity net gain” in their developments, with companies allowed to buy credits for offsite nature schemes when onsite provision of habitat for wildlife is not enough to deliver the net 10% boost required.

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