A York-based business that aims to restore Britain’s natural habitats reports a blossoming 2022, with further success due in the years ahead as developers strive to meet new planning obligations.

Environment Bank, based at the University of York, launched its Habitat Banks initiative, now with sites across the country.

Finding companies also keen to create them voluntarily, the business also plans to approach the corporate sector to create even more habitats for nature.

The move comes as UN biodiversity delegates have now reached an agreement to protect 30% of the world’s land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030.

Closer to home, however, the bank’s work will become even more essential in November when the Environment Act 2021 mandates new developments to deliver a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) to achieve planning approval.

By working with landowners, developers, and local planning authorities, Environment Bank is creating a nationwide network of Habitat Banks to restore natural sites.

In a world-first, a monetary value can be put on nature and allow development projects to go ahead.

This has seen Environment Bank win a series of Growing Business Awards, for best new products, market disruptor, and innovator of the year.

2022 has also delivered ‘exceptional’ growth, with turnover due to increase 888 per cent.

Likewise, staffing has increased from 4 in 2019, rising to 24 in 2021, to the current 41, with 93 expected this time next year and 200 in the next few years.

This year’s recruitment included a new finance team ands director and a new sales department.

Ecologists, heads of land, legal and financial experts, and business development directors have been taken on.

This year, the first Habitat Bank was created in Devon, followed by Milton Keynes due for planting in the New Year, with more than a dozen sites secured this year, including two in Harrogate.

More than 60 new sites are expected to be established in 2023, including sites in York, Scarborough, and Whitby.

Chairman David Hill told the Press, that he has raised £200m to create the habitat banks across the UK. These are typically 20-30ha, more than large enough to create meaningful wildlife reserves, which Environment Bank then runs for 30 years.

“I have lobbied government for this for 14 years and we have the investment in place. We are not only doing it for the developers who need to demonstrate gains in biodiversity to get approval, we are also looking at corporate businesses,” he said.

“Some 55 per cent of GDP relies on what nature provides so we are going to the corporate sector to generate further investment. We haven’t marketed to them yet, but we have a number of companies who want to become nature positive as part of their social goals so we will work on developments for the corporate sector.”