Investing in a Sustainable Future
Leisure site owners and operators have a critical role to play in the UK’s environmental recovery according to a new report from consultancy, Ecological Planning & Research (EPR).
Despite a delayed roll-out of the Environmental Bill, the report calls for landowners across all sectors to look at the environmental and financial opportunities that current and new legislation presents for their land.
Lockdown has raised awareness of the benefits of access to high-quality green spaces and improved our relationship with nature near our homes. The public are now calling on landowners across the country to do more to improve the quality of the environment they live, work, and enjoy leisure activities in – and it is becoming increasingly clear that they will vote with their feet and their wallets. As the pandemic continues to create uncertainty for many estate-based businesses, the opportunity to improve the environment whilst generating additional, predictable income streams must not be ignored.
There are several incentives and schemes open to those landowners seeking to deliver positive nature-based changes now. However, the presently low take-up demonstrates that the complexities around these incentives is proving a roadblock, and is compounded by a reticence to commit before the government provides clarity on the Environment Bill and Environmental Land Management scheme.
In response to this clear need for clarity, in ‘A Business Case for Cultivating Natural Capital’, EPR outlines the business and environmental case for natural assets, the opportunities available, and advises landowners on the steps they can take now to deliver lasting gains for our environment through their estate. The report also sets out examples for where multiple schemes can be leveraged simultaneously to generate the greatest benefit for local wildlife and plants, as well as the greatest financial reward for the landowner.
“Some of the boldest, most proactive voices in the fight for our environment are coming from the private sector,” says Karen Colebourn, Director and Principal Ecologist at EPR, “Innovative individuals and businesses, supported by increasingly favourable public sentiment, have responded to the UK’s environmental crisis by recognising the capacity of their land to deliver a wide range of benefits, including carbon capture, flood control, pollution reduction, and restoration of biodiversity. However, in the absence of promised legislation, these businesses require both financial and technical clarity to bring forward their proposals.
“Unfortunately, many ambitious landowners looking to improve the environment feel like they have been left without government guidance, as despite being on the table for more than two years, the Environment Bill, with its commitment to biodiversity net gain, has still not been heard in the Commons. Likewise, the proposed Environmental Land Management scheme for rewarding ‘public goods’ as outlined in the emerging Agriculture Bill, is not set to be rolled out until later this decade.
“However, incentive schemes for landowners looking to provide ecosystem services such as carbon capture and biodiversity net gain are already available – albeit under-reported. These schemes can unlock funding and the strength of the private sector to drive the restoration and stewardship of the environment now, regardless of the progression of the Bills.
“These forward-thinking landowners need guidance on the schemes available in their area, which schemes overlap, and how to understand the opportunities their land could present – for the benefit of the environment and their business. This is precisely what we have aimed to do with our latest report.”
The report can be downloaded from https://www.buildingbiodiversity.co.uk.