A farmer has signed up to a 30-year deal to help create new meadows, trees and wildflowers, which he hopes will eventually be open to the public.

Richard Pendlebury, of Yate Fold Farm in Horwich, joined with the Environment Bank, an organisation which invests in natural projects, to create a 121 acre “habitat bank” on his land.

This comes alongside similar projects all over the country aimed at helping developers meet their new biodiversity net gain requirements, known as BMG units, under The Environment Act. 

Mr Pendlebury said: “Once making an income from our land became no longer financially viable, we knew diversification was our only option.

“We turned to biodiversity restoration because it helps nature’s recovery but it also allows us to secure the future of our farm. 

“With the help of Environment Bank, our process will mirror the regenerative farming model, as we’ll be welcoming a new herd of cattle to graze the land and encourage the regrowth of grass.”

Mr Pendlebury had decided to work with the Environment Bank after his farm was affected by rising costs and plummeting returns, which meant he needed a new plan for the farm to continue profitably. 

He said: “Farming can be turbulent, but this project will afford us some financial certainty.

“Environment Bank has forward funded the process, which gives us a greater degree of control over our income and helps immensely with planning for the future.”

The Habitat Bank on Yate Fold Farm could eventually become a destination for people in Bolton and further afield in Manchester to experience the natural world.

Environment Bank ecologist Fleur Wilson said: “The Bolton Habitat Bank promises to deliver significant gains for nature as well as for the family. 

“It’s exciting to think of the benefits of this biologically diverse landscape, especially one in such an area of mass development, to be able to welcome back breeds of birds like curlew and lapwing, both of which are species in danger of extinction.”

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Further similar projects could also be set to follow around the country.

Environment Bank general counsel Alexa Culver said: “We are seeing increased demand for BNG Units from housebuilders and developers right across England.

“Manchester in particular continues to see strong growth in terms of infrastructure, from houses to commercial premises, roads and industrial units.

“There’s a huge demand for BNG Units and our Habitat Bank in Bolton is adjacent to the city and able to provide an end-to-end solution to those developers looking to meet their legal duties.”