Investment in the region’s landscapes, rivers, coastline and urban green spaces will unlock significant value in the economy thanks to a trailblazing fund secured by York and North Yorkshire. The region is one of only four in England to each receive up to £1m from the Government’s Local Investment in Natural Capital Programme (LINC).
Through the investment the Government seeks to understand how to increase green finance for nature-based solutions such as tree planting and peatland restoration and support farmers to access new private sector investments that increase resilience in the landscapes they manage. In doing so communities and businesses can benefit through improved access, supported well-being, increased resilience to flooding, a better quality of crops and removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere.
The funding, announced on Thursday (30), is seen as the first example of additional funding coming into the region following the proposed York and North Yorkshire Devolution Deal. Within the deal, currently with Government for ratification, the region seeks to become a “trailblazer in natural capital investment”.
The two-year LINC programme, will be delivered locally through a partnership of the North Yorkshire Council, City of York Council and other key stakeholders such as the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the region’s two national park authorities. It will include a number of feasibility studies to develop an investible pipeline of natural capital projects. The Government has set a target to raise at least £500 million in private finance to support nature’s recovery every year by 2027 in England, rising to more than £1 billion per year by 2030. Other areas receiving LINC investment are Cornwall, Northumberland and the West Midlands. Learnings will be shared between the regions to support the government to reach its target.
Research shows that the right investment in natural capital could grow York and North Yorkshire’s natural capital economy by 31% before 2050, which would translate into £946m GVA. The natural capital economy also plays an important role in the region’s bid to reach net zero emissions by 2034 and carbon negative emissions by 2040. The ambition for a carbon negative economy is laid out in a ‘Routemap to Carbon Negative’, a strategic document which has influenced council net zero strategies and will be used to identify the significant economic opportunities for York and North Yorkshire by striving to meet such targets.
North Yorkshire Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, said:
“The prospect of a devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire is already bringing benefits to the region and has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“The £1 million in funding that has been announced is a clear indication of the real and tangible benefits which are already being made. It proves that an even closer working relationship with the Government through devolution is set to prove particularly fruitful.
“It is a very welcome announcement and will provide vital funding for a range of pilot projects and feasibility studies that will bring even more investment from 2025.
“These initiatives will help us achieve our ambition of becoming the country’s first carbon negative region, removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is emitted, and helping us tackle the huge threat of climate change.”
Laurence Beardmore, President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:
“Of all the many fantastic assets that York and North Yorkshire boasts, our natural environment is perhaps its most valuable.
“We are blessed with unrivalled rural and coastal landscapes that contribute so much to our economy, whether that is through tourism, environmental management or agriculture.
“This funding will allow us to both protect and enhance this offering, creating jobs and protecting local communities from issues like flooding.”
Madge Moore, Chair of Grow Yorkshire, a network initiative that brings together organisations such as the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Country Land and Business Association and National Farmer’s Union, received the plans of the LINC funding positively.
“It’s exciting to see how LINC funding will inform the future of income generation for farm businesses and land managers.
“Alongside extensive land mapping that will protect the best land for food production and support income from Government-led environmental land management schemes, this funding opens up huge potential for attracting finance from the private sector for sequestering carbon, improving water quality, and improving and increasing biodiversity.”
LINC in York and North Yorkshire will run to March 2025 but seeks to unlock long-term opportunities and private funding. It will deliver across three areas:
A Land Use Assessment and Natural Capital Investment Plan (NCIP) in collaboration with potential investors and land managers will provide a strategic plan to unlock investment in the region’s natural assets
A pipeline of investible natural capital projects and piloting projects that test mechanisms for private investment
Business cases for a self-sustaining Accelerator Programme and a local investment vehicle to ensure the continued development of a pipeline of investible projects and reduce reliance on public funding.