Network Rail funding FAQ

Where has the funding come from?

Network Rail Infrastructure Projects (IP), the division responsible for delivering railway upgrades, is committed to a “measurable net positive contribution towards biodiversity in the UK”. No Net Loss to Biodiversity on the Greater West Programme (TGWP) is a pilot project, putting principle into practice by compensating for unavoidable habitat loss (mainly young semi-natural woodland and some scrub) during the electrification programme.

Although scrub, grassland and other low-lying habitats will grow back where trees have been removed, there has been some unavoidable loss to biodiversity.  Funding is available for the creation and improvement of similar habitats to those that have been lost, including funds for up to three years aftercare, in the vicinity of the railway line, a process known as “biodiversity offsetting”.  This is a voluntary commitment by Network Rail, not bound to any planning obligations or client requirements.

What biodiversity projects are eligible?

Creating new woodland, providing better links and connectivity between woodlands, and enhancing existing woodland and scrub mosaic. Hedgerows, orchards and trees out of woodland are also eligible. Other habitats could also be considered as part of a broader tree/scrub focused project

Preference for large projects (e.g. 5ha woodland enhancement or 10ha new woodland planting) or clusters of smaller projects delivered by partnerships

A key aim is to improve good quality areas by making them bigger and better connected to other wildlife sites and to improve the quality of existing habitats, in line with the Oxfordshire State of Nature Report  ( and Berkshire’s Biodiversity Action Plan 2014-2020 (

Projects need to ensure lasting benefits to wildlife habitats, at least 30 years and beyond

Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) could be considered. Also the buffering of ancient woodlands or to connect ancient woodlands with other woodland sites

Please note that no ancient woodland has been affected by the work associated with the electrification of the Greater West Line

Where can projects be supported?

Projects should be as local as possible to the railway line within the following local authority areas:

  • Oxford City
  • South Oxfordshire
  • Vale of White Horse
  • West Berkshire
  • Reading Borough
  • Wokingham Borough
  • Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

What is the timeframe?

The programme will be delivered over a four-year period

Stage 1 applications (outline project proposals) have been welcome from September 2017.

Who can apply?

Parish councils and other local authorities, local charities, not-for-profit organisations, and landowners

A partnership of organisations would bring strength to a project.

How does the process work?

  1. TOE reaches out to potential applicants and promote the scheme
  2. Stage 1 outline project proposals are submitted to Network Rail at
  3. Network Rail reviews the Stage 1 proposals and draws up a shortlist, in collaboration with TOE
  4. Shortlisted projects are invited to submit a Stage 2 detailed application to TOE
  5. TOE processes Stage 2 applications, organises assessments and considers them at quarterly Grant Panel meetings.