Switching public spending from ‘grey’ projects such as road building to ‘green’ schemes could address climate change more effectively and improve public health, says a report published by CABE

Old Rough, Kirkby, Merseyside
Old Rough, Kirkby, Merseyside

CABE has launched a new campaign to promote the country’s green infrastructure. Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space said: “It’s time for a complete shift in thinking away from grey to green. Forget capital intensive, technology driven approaches. Think softer, greener urban landscapes. And invest in people who can design and manage them.”
Titled Grey to Green, the report includes figures produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers that show how a shift in spending from grey to green of just 0.5 per cent in some local authorities could increase investment in urban green space by 141 per cent.
The report identifies the network of natural green resources in every town and city, the ‘green infrastructure’ (GI), as one of the most practical and cost-effective tools we have for dealing with environmental and social problems.
It also suggests that the £1.28bn budget for widening a 63-mile section of the M25 could pay for 3.2m trees to store three million tonnes of carbon. But it warns that there is a chronic shortage of people in local authorities with the right skills to design and manage green infrastructure, which is essential to harness the benefits.     CABE is calling on the government to establish a Green Infrastructure Taskforce as the first step towards putting GI at the heart of urban planning. Nobody has mapped England’s green spaces yet and CABE is calling for a single, shared ‘atlas’ to do this.
As part of the work supporting the campaign, organisations including English Heritage, Natural England, the Landscape Institute and Play England agree that England needs a single shared, national information resource that records data spatially using a consistent approach to its collection and categorisation.
Finally, in a nod to the City Architects of the past, CABE is proposing that each local authority appoint a City Gardener to lead a radical redesign of our towns and cities.
To read a copy of the Grey to Green report, click here.

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