The Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme (NCPGS) has been launched to provide landowners with new funding to restore peatlands in the uplands and lowlands of England.
The restoration of degraded peatland has been identified as essential if the UK is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with its net zero commitments.
According to a discussion document published by Defra in 2020, England’s peatlands are the nation’s largest carbon store, as well as a haven for rare wildlife, an important part of our cultural heritage and natural providers of water regulation.
However, because England’s peatlands are also currently highly degraded they are emitting an estimated 11mt of carbon dioxide equivalents annually, which is equivalent to 24% of emissions reported for the UK’s agriculture sector in 2017.
The Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme (NCPGS) is a competitive grant scheme that will run until 2025, with the objective of starting the process of restoring 35,000ha of degraded peatland.
It is estimated this will reduce cumulative emissions from peatland by the equivalent of 9mt of carbon dioxide by 2050 and provide additional benefits for nature, tourism and water management.
Details of Nature for Climate Peatland Scheme
The scheme is open to environmental groups, local authorities, charities, public bodies, individual landowners and organisations.
However, Defra is looking for landscape-scale projects which means applications are likely to involve a number of sites and landowners working together.
Two types of grant are available:
1. Restoration grant
Restoration grants will fund landscape-scale restoration work on degraded peatlands in England. Applicants will normally be able to apply for up to 75% of the total project costs, but in exceptional cases may be able to apply for up to 85% of the costs.
At least 15% of the funding for any project must come from a non-exchequer source.
The first round of applications runs from 30 April 2021 to 25 June 2021.
2. Discovery grant
Discovery grants will support applicants to gather the information they will need to apply for a restoration grant in future rounds.
Landowners can apply for up to 100% of funds for these projects.
No date has yet been set for the application window for discovery grants.
Alternative sources of funding for peatland restoration
Funding for peatland restoration is also available through Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship which offers capital grants of up to 100% of the actual costs of restoration, alongside standard moorland management options.
However, this will only be an option for landowners who are not currently signed up to an agri-environment scheme, or whose agreement is coming to an end.
There is also the opportunity of seeking investment from private funders such as water companies.
Meanwhile, the Peatland Code is a certification scheme for UK peatland projects wanting to generate a new income stream by selling the carbon benefits that will result from restoration.
A public register of all Peatland Code projects is online, allowing companies that are seeking to mitigate their own carbon emissions to purchase them.