Bid to restore climate tackling seabed kelp forest gets government seal of approval with major grant
An innovative plan to restore a kelp forest off the coast of Sussex has resulted in Adur & Worthing Councils being awarded a government grant for major schemes tackling climate change.
Working with the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project, neighbouring local authorities and other partners, the Councils want to support work to restore natural kelp forest in the seas out to 4km off the coast between Selsey and Shoreham.
Coastal kelp beds help combat climate change by drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce coastal erosion by absorbing wave energy and provide a haven for wildlife. Eventually the hope is that a Sussex Bay marine park can be created across the entire county coastline.
Now the scheme has been given a government seal of approval with the award of £79,000 from government department Defra and the Environment Agency to invest in the project. It is one of 27 schemes across the country to be awarded funds from the ground-breaking £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund.
Funding has been awarded to environmental groups, businesses and local authorities to invest in a broad range of projects that deliver environmental benefits while also demonstrating a wide range of innovative approaches to generating revenues from ecosystem services.
The Councils are in talks with The Crown Estate to become the first in the UK to lease the seabed for this purpose, in a pioneering project to invest in climate change measures and restore marine habitat.
This would allow the authorities and their partners to create a trial ‘kelp blue carbon investment product’ as well as exploring the value of other ‘ecosystem services’. The project could provide Government bodies such as the Environment Agency, water companies and other companies a platform to invest in kelp forests to help in their own bids to become carbon neutral.
Earlier this year the Nearshore Trawling Byelaw, which protects more than 300 square kilometres of seabed off the Sussex coast from trawling, was introduced by Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Sussex IFCA). It followed effective lobbying by the Help Our Kelp partnership led by the Sussex Wildlife Trust SWT). Both groups partnering Councils in the new initiative.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said, ‘Given the scale of the environmental challenges we face, including climate change and biodiversity loss, it is crucial that domestic natural environment projects are able to attract private investment alongside support from the public sector.
‘Unleashing innovation and developing new sources of finance, such as through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, are fundamental for delivering nature recovery and developing nature-based solutions to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.’
Leader of Adur District Council, Cllr Neil Parkin, said, ‘There has been a tremendous response to the kelp forest project and indeed the idea of Sussex Bay. This government grant is another endorsement of this vital and innovative scheme.’
Leader of Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Daniel Humphreys, said, ‘This is great news. This partnership work on Sussex Bay has the potential to help us cut carbon emissions, restore our marine ecology and attract investment to support the creation of a marine park.’’