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Levelling up the north, through investment in large scale climate action and nature recovery


Setting out a vision for green growth in the North

Nearly 100 environmental and businesses leaders, plus policy makers, gathered near Manchester, to make the case for collaboration and investment in large scale nature recovery projects. They say its key to levelling up the north, improving the prosperity, wellbeing and resilience of communities.

Nature North, a collaboration between organisations in the North of England, say public and private sector funding in green initiatives, at a strategic scale, will narrow regional inequality. Not least, through the creation of green jobs.

They have identified seven investment areas where funding for nature projects will pay dividends for investors and locals. With benefits that include; improvements in people’s health and wellbeing, homes and business being more resilient to climate change and the creation of green jobs, to help local economies, they say.

The scale of ambition, makes Nature North, a UK first. It’s been made possible by £500,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The focus of Nature North’s first conference, at Quarry Bank, Styal, Cheshire (Thursday 2 Feb), was to set out a vision for green growth and bring together those who will be crucial to achieving this. Speakers included: Mike Innerdale, National Trust’s North of England Regional Director; Sam Plumb, Chief Executive at Barrow Borough Council; Zelda Bentham Group Head of Sustainability at Aviva (the first carbon neutral insurance group); Simon Owen, Managing Director, at Manchester based video production company, Standby Productions; Liz Ballard, Chief Executive of the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust; James Copeland, Senior Environment & Land Use Adviser, NFU North.

Giving the key note speech was Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, who said;

“The work of Nature North could not be more important in helping to achieve our national ambition to leave our natural environment in a better state for future generations. It exemplifies the large-scale partnership working that it is increasingly clear is vital for meeting the huge challenges at hand, including the climate crisis and on-going depletion of the natural world.

“It has huge potential in driving forward the significant investments needed to achieve Nature recovery, not only benefitting wildlife, but also creating jobs, economic renewal and contributing to people’s wellbeing. I am very excited to see this initiative gather momentum and look forward during the years ahead to celebrating the many successes that I am sure will arise from the work it will do”.

Clare Hayward MBE, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:

“By working together, we can set ourselves on a path to a fair and sustainable economy and society. Nature will play a key role in this – helping to grow the economy and provide resilience to climate change. This collaboration will generate green jobs, improve biodiversity, enhance water quality, improve the health of the population, reduce flooding, support climate change adaptation and help Cheshire and Warrington and the UK as a whole to achieve our Net Zero ambitions.”

Attending the event were northern chairs of LEPs, LNPs (local nature partnerships) and regional directors of environmental, statutory and charitable bodies. Plus leaders within green finance, land management, business, tourism, heritage, the media, arts and culture. And people from health and education.

Anyone interested in finding out more, including pledging support, should email or visit