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The Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF)

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What is the grant available for?

The natural environment investment readiness fund (NEIRF) supports the government’s goals in the 25 year environment plan, green finance strategy and 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution. It aims to stimulate private investment and market based mechanisms that improve and safeguard our domestic natural environment by helping projects get ready for investment.

The NEIRF is a competitive grants scheme providing grants of between £10,000 and £100,000 to support the development of environmental projects in England that:

  • help achieve one or more natural environmental outcomes from the 25 year environment plan
  • have the ability to produce revenue from ecosystem services to attract and repay investment
  • produce an investment model that can be scaled up and reproduced

Proposals should focus on generating revenue from ecosystem services, rather than goods or commodities. Examples of ecosystem services that could produce revenue include:

  • selling carbon credits from woodland creation or peatland restoration, using the Woodland Carbon Code or Peatland Code
  • selling biodiversity units from a habitat bank, using the Natural England biodiversity offsetting metric
  • selling ‘catchment services’ (such as improved water quality and natural flood management benefits) resulting from natural environment improvements

We want to see a diversity of ecosystem service and investment models represented. We welcome proposals outside the examples above, ones which consider interactions between ecosystem services or focus on more specific or complex elements of existing codes or metrics.

The grants are to help you to:

  • get support from professional advisors to develop your project, address barriers to investment and present an attractive case for potential investors
  • build capability to attract financial investment into natural environment projects
  • develop a market for ecosystem services (such as investment or trading platforms, codes for verifying benefits, aggregator vehicles)

We will expect you to make the products and knowledge gained through the fund openly available for the benefit of others. This is to help the development of:

  • the natural capital investment sector
  • policy and regulation, including alignment with future government funding schemes

You can apply for an NEIRF grant between 8 November 2021 and 3 February 2022.

The Environment Agency administers the scheme on behalf of the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) group.

Any eligibility criteria

You can apply for grant if you are a:

  • not-for-profit organisation, including charities and environmental non-governmental organisations
  • public body, including local councils and national park authorities
  • company or other business registered with HMRC, including sole traders, academic institutions, community interest companies and community benefit companies

You cannot apply for a grant if you are a:

  • central government department or one of their executive agencies
  • non-departmental public body

But those organisations can be partners in bids. If so, you will need to show which staff are partners in a grant application.

You must prove that you’re eligible when you apply.

You can apply for a grant from 8 November 2021.

You must send all the information we need by midday on 3 February 2022.

Any required delivery targets / outcome required

Projects must protect or enhance the domestic natural environment in line with one or more of the 25 year environment plan goals in the context of the following natural capital asset types:

  • urban or areas of transition from rural to urban land uses (peri-urban)
  • enclosed farmland
  • mountain, moor and heathland
  • freshwaters and wetlands
  • woodland
  • coastal margins
  • marine
  • semi-natural grassland

Funded activities should be completed within one calendar year, but we may allow longer grant periods. Funded activities should not begin before you receive your grant award and must be completed by 31 March 2024.

The grants are to add to your own resources in the development of investment readiness proposals. All costs must be directly associated with developing the investment readiness proposal to be eligible for funding. When carried out, these must have the potential to provide activities that meet all the fund’s aims.

The grant can fund up to 100% of eligible costs.

Third sector organisations can apply for costs recovery for up to 20% of their staff costs (organisational overheads such as those related to day to day running costs, insurance, or routine accommodation). We will assess all applications for value for money.

What grant amounts are available?

You can apply for a grant of between £10,000 and £100,000.

Who provides the grant?

The Environment Agency

How to apply for the grant?

To apply for the grant or for more information please click here.

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