Innovative financing: using a natural capital approach to generate investment


A finance mechanism is needed to meet the ambitions of the North West River Basin District Management Plan – money remains a big barrier to delivering change at the scale and pace required.  There is now an urgent need to find new finance models to drive investment into natural capital and catchment restoration.

Innovative financial models have been developed through Natural Course where revenues were generated and as a result, attracted a wider range of private sector and alternative sources of funding (which also deliver societal benefits), including:

  • The Greater Manchester Environment Fund developed between GMCA, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Finance Earth as an independent vehicle to support ambitions for the restoration and improvement of the natural environment.
  • The Wyre Natural Flood Management Investment Readiness Project (delivered by the Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, Wyre Rivers Trust, United Utilities, Triodos Bank, Co-op Insurance and FloodRe, with funding from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation) received grant funding to encourage sustainable private sector investment for the benefit of the local community and environment.

A significant amount of additional funding is needed to deliver ambitions across the North West, including those of the Greater Manchester 5-Year Environment Plan and the Glenderamackin and Windermere Catchment Management Plans.

What we are doing:

We’re going to build on our previous projects and scale them up across Greater Manchester and other catchments in Cumbria, taking the lessons learned and looking at structures and revenue models to attract private finance to drive investment into natural capital investment and catchment restoration.

In Greater Manchester, activity will continue to secure key funding commitments, bring in much-needed capacity and create an independent, self-sustaining Greater Manchester Environment Fund.  This should provide a transparent framework for funders and delivery organisations to set regional priorities and facilitate local projects that can deliver substantial social and environmental impact.

We plan to:

  • Deliver the Greater Manchester Environment Fund short-medium term investment strategy.
  • Secure more pump priming from public and philanthropic grants.
  • Develop a corporate investment programme.
  • Deliver the investment readiness funded habitat banking and carbon trading pilot
  • Have a comprehensive framework to deliver the Biodiversity Net Gain off-site programme (commission using external assistance).

In Cumbria (Glenderamackin and Windermere catchments), we are taking what we learned from the Wyre Investment Readiness project to deliver an investable commercial model that replicates, scales up and streamlines the transaction process.

We plan to:

  • Develop a commercial model for Glenderamackin supported by an indicative business plan. (This will use the knowledge from the Wyre natural flood management project and other smaller scale NFM work to develop a suite of NFM features to help reduce the frequency and severity of flooding to properties in Keswick).
  • Use what we’ve learnt to develop new revenue models elsewhere in the country
  • Develop a method that will quantify the potential damages avoided if catchment scale NFM is delivered.
  • Report on data realisation and buyer and seller identification to form the basis for the development of a commercial structure for Windermere.
  • Have a mentoring position from South Cumbria Rivers Trust with West Cumbria Rivers Trust

Who else is involved?

GMCA, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Finance Earth, UIA/IGNITION, Rivers Trust, West Cumbria Rivers Trust, South Cumbria Rivers Trust, United Utilities, Environment Agency and Natural England

Project location:

Greater Manchester and Cumbria

Latest update:

Project update from Resilient Glenderamackin (opens in new tab)