Agenda item

Presented By:Tristan Semple


(1)  The update on the Local Investment in Natural Capital programme was received.


(2)  Input to the engagaement and outreach process was provided.



The board considered a report from the LINC Project Manager, Tristan Semple, to inform and update the board on the £1million Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) funded Local Investment in Natural Capital (LINC) programme that was supplemented with a presentation shared to the board by Tristan to note an overview of the programme.


The Government had set a goal to mobilise at least £500million in private finance to support nature’s recovery every year by 2027 in England, rising to more than £1billion by 2030.  The Government’s Green Finance Strategy aimed to identify LINC programmes as one of the measures to support the transition to a climate resilient, nature-positive and net-zero economy.  The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) had been selected as one of four regions in England to deliver Defra’s LINC programmes and would run until 31 March 2025, supported by a £1million grant from Defra that was secured as part of the Devolution Deal.


The next steps of the programme outlined that consultants would be appointed in January/Februuary 2024 to support LINC, whereby the WMCA and consultants would carry out stakeholder engagement and market research to understand the supply and demand-side opportunities for nature markets in the region.  An options appraisal and Investment in Natural Capital Strategy would be developed in April/May 2024 and would be brought to the Environment & Energy Board for review and approval.


Councillor Mackiewicz noted that Solihull was key to local infrastructure projects in the West Midlands, due to the council’s existing biodiversity net gain planning and provided the board with a brief verbal overview of projects undertaken in the borough such as tree planting, the creation of a new park in Shirley, biodiversity at Hope Coppice and in particular an urban biodiversity project at Kingshurst Brook where funding had been secured for de-culverting a stream and planting wildflowers in the creation of a mini park.  In response, Tristan noted that the team were working with multidisciplinary teams across all of the local authorities, as well as a range of other key delivery partners to pull the opportunities together and to identify elements of existing good practices and linkages.


In response to Councillor Clinton who suggested whether it be better for each local authority to be allocated some funding to develop projects within the parameters set to allow for learning and local resident involvement as opposed to selecting several projects in the region, the Executive Director for Strategy, Economy & Net Zero, Ed Cox, recognised the fantastic projects already being undertaken in the region by local authorities and noted that the role of the WMCA was to scale up those projects and that the LINC and Net Zero Neighbourhoods programmes were designed to try and find a financial model that would enable scaling up projects in the future.    





In response to Councillor Clinton who requested whether the WMCA could undertake a conference for attending on the findings and to bring experts from local universities to disseminate the information out into the higher educational facilities, Tristan noted a large part of the programme was about knowledge exchange and education, with the aim of capacity and capability building across all organisations and that the WMCA had been involved in events since January 2023 to enhance levels of understanding with future webinars and workshops scheduled to be planned of the nature market and green finance landscape for people to attend. 


In response to Councillor Hughes who queried the membership in terms of the governance arrangements for the LINC programme, due to elements of the programme crossing between multiple portfolio areas and services at Sandwell, the Executive Director for Strategy, Economy & Net Zero noted that a list would be sent to councillors of the Environment & Energy Board of the named local authority officers representing the five or six working groups across energy and environmental programmes.


In regard to the climate vulnerability map of the presentation, Councillor Hughes noted that one of the ideas from government was to address the unequal distribution of environmental benefits and queried whether the programme could support Sandwell with proposed green projects as compared to other areas of the region due to Sandwell being largely urban and brownfield land, with very little green space, or lacking land identified for housing and employment.  Tristan acknowledged Councillor Hughes’ comments and noted that the programme was heavily driven by investment in an open and free market that could not be forced as investors would be seeking an evidence base to ensure where investment would have the greatest impact, however the WMCA would support local authorities with a strong narrative to try and achieve nature recovery investments for areas to link to other key drivers such as deprivation, access and climate vulnerability.


Councillor Mahmood highlighted existing and proposed key green projects for Birmingham City Council such as scaling up parks in deprived areas, the conversion of housing land to wild meadows and tree planting, as well as the Urban Accelerator Programme to increase tree coverage and canopy, as well as established meeting forums at Birmingham and recommended for the WMCA to link to such as the Nature Board, The Theme of Open Space Forum and Future Parks Celebrate, as well as external organisations such as the NHS in terms of health benefits from natural capital and Network Rail for the rail corridor between Solihull and Birmingham where a lot of fly-tipping occurred on land. 


Councillor Mackiewicz reflected on the discussions and in particular addressed Councillor Hughes’ concern of Sandwell being a heavily urban area and noted that Solihull had a working model called the Wildlife Waste Project which was an £18.6million project that was a completely urban project that delivered small benefits, sites and cycleways that may address Sandwell’s concern and recommended for the WMCA to contact Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to discuss the project further which was a working model, rather than to reinvent a new model.




(1)  The update on the Local Investment in Natural Capital Programme be received.


(2)  Input to the engagement and outreach process be provided.



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