• Legal requirement to offset losses
• Major provider aims for expansion
• Mandatory for new developments
A company specialising in biodiversity restoration is spearhead the company’s next phase of growth.
The move by Environment Bank follows a multi-million-pound investment from specialist alternative asset manager Gresham House. It is the latest part of a recruitment drive to grow the team of 40 staff to more than 200 employees in the coming years.
Environment Bank specialises in creating Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) units, which under the Environment Act 2021 are becoming mandatory for all new developments and infrastructure projects in England.
BNG is a concept pioneered by founder David Hill in 2007. Based on leaving nature in a better state than before, it requires the creation or improvement of environmental habitats to offset habitats lost or damaged by development.
Environment Bank leases land from farmers and landowners over 30 years to create these ‘habitat banks’ which deliver significant gains for nature. The BNG units they create are then used by developers to meet their legal requirements.
Working in partnership with landowners, the team of expert ecologists at Environment Bank helps plan and create the habitat banks, supporting the management over the term of the lease – and generating an income for farmers.
Supporters say habitat banks have the potential to create huge gains for nature – as well as providing a guaranteed diversified income stream for farmers and landowners while improving the natural environment.
The new appointments see experienced environmental and real estate lawyer Alexa Culver join as general counsel for the company. Ms Culver brings with her ore than 14 years of background in environmental, natural capital and real estate law
In her role with Environment Bank, Ms Culver will advise and support the team strategically – ensuring smooth progress of their national programme of habitat land transactions and BNG sales.
Ms Culver said: “Although Environment Bank has been established since 2006 thanks to some of the UK’s leading ecologists, this is a step-change moment for the business, after years of lobbying with the government.
The Environment Act meant that developers would have to provide biodiversity net gain as part of a mandatory legal requirement, said Ms Culver. “It’s not easy to find creative in-house roles for lawyers so I leapt at the chance to join Environment Bank.”
She added: “My experience working in transactional real estate, projects and regeneration, and in the innovative technology and environmental services sector meant I felt that I had something to offer.”
Tom Brown and Kerriann McLackland join the new land team, as regional heads of land for the north and south-east regions respectively. They will lead on lease opportunities with landowners and form joint ventures that deliver on long-term landscape change.
Working with farmers
Mr Brown has over nine years of experience in private practice working with farmers, landowners, and rural communities to deliver sustainable strategic rural business planning and development.
He said: “I am passionate about how we farm and manage the landscape – and for the huge opportunities habitat banks offer for rural land use and the future of farming.
“Environment Bank is leading the way in demonstrating how diversified income streams can be generated from nature whilst also protecting the environment, habitats and rural communities. No other business in the world is doing this.”
A rural surveyor with over 20 years of experience, Mr McLackland has a background in estate management for institutional landowners, including National Trust, RSPB and a number of local authorities.
He said: “It’s a great time to join Environment Bank and I am looking forward to engaging with more landowners. I feel like I have joined a company with a strong collective purpose and where I can make a genuine difference – to people and the planet.”
“Not only are we supporting the rural economy with guaranteed, diversified business opportunities but the habitat banks we are creating across England will make a real and lasting contribution to nature restoration and that is such an exciting prospect.”
With its head office in York, Environment Bank is headed by former Natural England chief executive James Cross. It plans to roll out habitat banks in every local planning authority area by early 2024.
Mr Cross said: “This is an exciting time for Environment Bank. The past 12 months have seen phenomenal growth in our business, which is great news for nature and for the economy.
“Our vision and our passion mean that we are able to attract and retain the best talent which will be vital to our success. Tom, Kerriann and Alexa will play key roles in leading and influencing environmental change.”