The Environment Bank – in partnership with the Environment Agency – is piloting a new market mechanism that will manage rising sea levels by creating coastal grazing and sea marshes

Eco markets heading for Suffolk and Essex coast

Local developers and businesses will be required to offset their impact on the environment by buying conservation credits, which will be used to manage the costal land registered with the Environment Bank. It is understood that the conservation credit system will feature in the forthcoming Natural Environment white paper.

Landowners, farmers and local wildlife trusts will be involved in creating, restoring and managing the land to accommodate rising sea levels, as well as providing flood risk mitigation.

“This is a good demonstration of public sector investment working alongside public bodies to create wider environmental, economic and societal benefits for coastal communities,” said Dr Charles Beardall, Area Manager for the Environment Agency. “We will support the Environment Bank in exploring this approach with the partnerships we have developed through our Shoreline Management plans.”

The Environment Bank has obtained funding from the Shell Foundation – a charity set up by the oil company to support enterprise-based solutions to environmental challenges – for the next 12 months.

“Creating markets for ecosystem goods and services should stop the environment being treated as a non-replenishing extractive industry,” said Environment Bank Chairman David Hill. “Our model will be capable of listing, registering and validating credits in respect of the full range of emerging markets for ecosystem services.”

Similar schemes exist in the US and Europe, with estimates putting the value of biodiversity markets globally at £6bn per year.

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