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  • by Karma Loveday

Defra provides £10m to drive private investment in nature-based solutions

Defra has launched a new £10m fund to drive private sector investment in nature.

The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund will provide grants of up to £100,000 to businesses, environmental groups, local authorities and other organisations to help them develop nature projects in England to a point where they can attract private investment. The aim is that this will create a pipeline of projects for the private sector to invest in, and develop new funding models that can be replicated elsewhere, demonstrating the UK’s leadership in nature finance in the run-up to COP26 in November.

The fund will be delivered by the Environment Agency on behalf of Defra. Projects need to be replicable and scalable, with key learnings made public to encourage similar approaches to access private sector finance for nature projects in future.

Defra set out the following examples of projects that could be eligible for the fund.

The creation of new woodlands and the restoration of peatlands, providing habitats for wildlife, green spaces for the public and carbon sequestration to help the government achieve its net zero target. This will generate carbon units which can be sold to businesses that want to offset emissions.

The creation of new coastal wetlands, which benefit wildlife and reduce tidal flooding, while also attracting investment from developers needing to deliver biodiversity net gain and even delivering revenue through eco-tourism.

The restoration of river catchments, helping to both improve water quality and reduce flood risk. Defra commented: "As well as benefitting nature and people, these environmental benefits will deliver financial incentives to water companies (with reduced costs for water treatment) and encouraging them to invest.”

The fund will be open for applications until 26 March.


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