Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks pledges £250k for British nature restoration schemes

Image: Dr Tony Gillie.

The electricity distributor for the north of Scotland and central Southern England will support the regeneration of 24 hectares of woodland in Heal, Somerset, and 11 hectares of fen in Oxfordshire.

The Somerset project is being spearheaded by Heal Rewilding and it is the charity’s first nature restoration site since it was founded in 2020. A website for the project states that the location has “an amazing potential to become a stronghold for wildlife”

Heal Rewilding’s chair of trustees Jan Stannard called the funding package from SSEN “generous and transformative”.

Stannard elaborated: This vital funding will enable us to accelerate the recovery of our Northern Fields, enabling us to ring-fence the land so that we can manage the impact of deer on the regenerating vegetation and bring in our ‘ecosystem engineers’ – pigs, cattle, and ponies – over the next few years.”

In Oxfordshire, the land is sited within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is under the care of the Freshwater Habitats Trust. Alkaline fens, SSEN has stated, are at risk from factors such as warmer weather and land conversion. The business and the NGO will work to rewet the fen.

SSEN Distribution set out time-bound, numerical targets for enhancing biodiversity late last year. It has ambitions to achieve 258 hectares of woodland creation, 522 hectares of peatland restoration and 17 hectares of seagrass planting through to 2028.

A ‘Nature-Positive Strategy’ is in development for the business, further to these targets.

Projects for Nature

SSEN is allocating the £250,000 of funding, announced today (11 June), through a new platform called ‘Projects for Nature’. The platform connects businesses and investors with nature projects that have been assessed by the UK Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and/or its arms-length bodies Natural England and the Environment Agency.

SSEN Distribution’s managing director Chris Burchell said: “SSEN is fortunate to work in many of the UK’s most precious natural environments. This is a privilege – and it’s also a big responsibility.

“We already have significant measures in place to protect and enhance the natural environment around us, and our early support of Projects for Nature means we’re giving further meaningful support to natural habitats in the communities we serve.”

To date, only one other business – Lloyds Bank – has joined Projects for Nature as a founding business partner. Further firms are expected to be announced shortly.

Planned public spending on nature conservation and restoration in the UK between 2022 and 2032 is at least £44bn short of headline government commitments, according to the Green Finance Institute (GFI). The Institute believes the actual figure is more likely to be closer to £56bn.

With that in mind, unlocking private investment will be vital to close the gap.

Related news: Scotland celebrates record levels of peatland restoration

Related blog: The case for investing in nature-based solutions in 2024

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