Sources of funding for habitat improvements
How to find funding for wetland habitat projects
As a landowner, there may be sources of funding that you can access to create or enhance habitat on your land that benefits the environment. We have put together these notes on some of those sources of income for wetland habitats along with links where you can find out more information on the schemes and how to apply. Most of the schemes are available in England only unless otherwise stated.
Countryside Stewardship grants are funded by the government and administered through the Rural Payments Agency. The aim of the scheme is to provide financial incentives for those who manage the land to look after and improve the environment. Funding is given to projects that increase biodiversity, improve habitat, improve air or water quality and provide natural flood management.
There are currently 259 different grant schemes and they cover a wide variety of projects from the creation of habitat such as scrapes and saltmarsh to the restoration of water bodies, the construction of wetlands to treat pollution and the management of existing wetlands.
Many landowners will appoint an agent to advise them on applying for funding and help with the application process.
In Wales, similar schemes are run by Rural Payments Wales: https://www.gov.wales/rural-grants-payments
Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nature-for-climate-peatland-grant-scheme
This scheme provides funding to restore peatlands in the uplands and lowlands of England and is now closed for funding.
The Landscape Recovery scheme provides funding for long-term and large-scale projects in England. Farmers and land managers can apply to get money for projects that support net zero, protected sites and habitat creation. Example projects include creating and enhancing peatland, nature reserves and protected sites such as wetlands and salt marshes
The deadline for this year’s application round is midday on 21 September 2023.
The Landscape Recovery scheme is designed to fund long-term, large-scale, bespoke projects to enhance the natural environment and deliver significant benefits. Projects are likely to involve groups of land managers and farmers working together to deliver a range of environmental benefits across farmland and rural landscapes.
More information can be found by following this link and there will be a series of webinars for potential applicants to attend: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-landscape-recovery-funding
In some parts of the UK, nitrate and phosphate pollution is an issue for proposed developments near river catchments. To build new housing, it may be necessary to mitigate any nutrient pollution the development creates. Mitigating nutrient pollution is part of the process to get planning permission with the local planning authority (LPA).
Developers can apply to buy ‘credits’ that fund mitigation activities, such as creating a new woodland or wetland. The aim is to balance out any nutrient pollution produced by the housing development.
As this is currently run at local authority level, it would be necessary to find out whether a scheme is running in the district for the planned development. Somerset and Herefordshire have their own schemes, for example, and the Natural England scheme is currently only available in the Tees catchment but will be expanded to include more catchment areas in the future.
If you own land that is suitable for mitigation for nitrate or phosphate credits, it may be possible to receive payments to either set aside this land or manage it to contain these pollutants. It is likely that this scheme will be developed and expanded in 2024.
National Lottery Funding
The National Lottery funds groups and organisations to run projects.
In their habitat and species category, the National Lottery will fund environmental projects that improve threatened or fragmented habitat and slow river flow and improve water quality. Funding is also available for conservation at a landscape scale to build bigger, better, well-connected, and more resilient habitats for nature.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
BNG is a concept whereby development and/or land management aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. There are opportunities for landowners to provide ‘biodiversity gain sites’ for development.
Currently, the expectation is that, from November 2023, there will be a mandatory requirement for all developments receiving planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (save those expressly exempt) to deliver at least 10% BNG.
BNG can be delivered outside of development sites (offsite), on ‘biodiversity gain sites’ which are secured and registered on the biodiversity gain sites register (likely to be established and maintained by Natural England). The units within these sites can be created and then allocated/sold to developers. Habitat enhancement delivered offsite will need to be maintained and secured for 30 years once the initial habitat creation works have been completed.
If institutions own land that could be enhanced for biodiversity purposes, this land could be secured (through a conservation covenant or a planning obligation), registered as a biodiversity gain site and used to deliver biodiversity units. These units can then be sold to developers.
If institutions are planning their own developments, retaining land and green space onsite could be beneficial, as it could allow these spaces to be used to deliver BNG onsite. This reduces the need to secure BNG on alternative sites or purchase credits.
Using land to deliver BNG is a long-term commitment as habitat enhancement for the purpose of satisfying BNG requirements need to be maintained for 30 years.
The Environment Bank is likely to be one of the biggest players in the UK when it comes to managing BNG. If you are a landowner and are interested in your land becoming a biodiversity gain site, you can find more information on their website.
And some local stuff:
Severn Trent's Environmental Protection Scheme
Part of Severn Trent's Farming 4 Water catchment management programme. These grants are provided for farmers across the region and are aimed at protecting the local environment, local water courses and improve farm infrastructure and river health. More details on eligibility and levels of funding can be found here.