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  • by Karma Loveday

Public funding seeks to leverage private capital in four green pilot projects

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 the natural environment.

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) and Triodos Bank UK have collaborated to support environmental projects to create sustainable funding models. The bank has sourced and evaluated the projects, which will now receive grant funding from Defra, the EA and EFF to support their development, complete business plans to attract private sector investment.

The four projects receiving funding

• Devon Wildlife Trust’s restoration of the Caen wetlands – 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.

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

• NFU’s work to reduce nitrate pollution in Poole Harbour – The proposed 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.

• Moors for the Future Partnership’s restoration and conservation of peatlands in the Pennines – These peatlands are some of the most degraded in uplands in Europe. 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.

Chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd (pictured) said: “You can’t put a price on nature, but investing in its recovery can generate a steady return and will make the UK economy more clean and resilient. These projects are designed to attract investment into local economies while developing models for businesses to use and scale up around the world.

"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. To help project developers up and down the country attract investment, the lessons learned from the four pilot projects will be made freely available.

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