22 Jul 2021
Two Norfolk Rivers projects received nearly £ 170,000 from a fund to tackle climate change by boosting private investment in nature.
Defra, the Environment Agency and Natural England have announced the first 27 programs to benefit from the £ 10million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).
The fund will help environmental groups, businesses and local authorities capture the economic value of conservation projects – and provide a return on investment by selling carbon or biodiversity credits to private companies seeking to offset their own emissions.
Among them is the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which will receive £ 99,718 for the Wendling Beck Exemplar Project, aimed at transforming farmland near Dereham through river restoration, grassland and wetland creation.
In doing so, it will create ‘ecosystem services’ including carbon sequestration, nutrient reduction, flood mitigation, groundwater enhancement – so it will seek ways to generate income by selling biodiversity credits, of carbon and nutrients.
Nik Khandpur, Acting Managing Director of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “Together we want to build a plan that brings together farmers and landowners with conservation organizations to better protect the environment.
“We are delighted that this grant is helping us develop and present new models of sustainably funded land use that will have, at the heart of their concerns, the creation of habitats at the landscape scale, the restoration of the nature and commitment of the people. “
The Wendling Beck Project brings together four farmers, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Norfolk County Council in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Norfolk Rivers Trust and Norfolk FWAG.
Norfolk Rivers Trust also received £ 70,000 to explore the application of an ‘environmental impact bond’ to reduce phosphates and other pollutants entering the Stiffkey River, while generating income in the form of ‘phosphate credits’ .
Trust chief executive David Diggens said he was “over the moon” with the funding, which would help build on work already being done alongside Anglian Water to create an integrated man-made wetland on the Ingol River in 2018.
“The idea is to define the sale value of the nutrients held in the wetland, to sell them to a third party who wants to compensate for these nutrients – it could be a developer or anyone,” he said.
“Our specialty is developing and delivering natural capital solutions. We have proven the concept, so this money gives us the opportunity to explore the opportunity to move on to the next phase, to get external funding.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “To meet the environmental challenges we face as a result of climate change and biodiversity loss, it is essential that national natural environment projects can attract investment. private sector alongside support from the public sector. “