Urban green space is ‘high investment opportunity’

Report confirms importance of natural capital

The Natural Capital Committee (NCC) has launched its third report into the state of natural capital in England. The NCC, established in 2012 as an independent body, provides advice to Government on how to ensure England’s ‘natural wealth’ is managed efficiently and sustainably.

The report emphasises that carefully planned investments in natural capital will deliver significant value for money and generate large economic returns. Urban green space is highlighted as just one of the ‘high return investment opportunities’, with the report stating its potential to reduced health treatment costs by £2.1 billion. The report also identifies that woodlands near towns and cities have the potential to generate net societal benefits to the tune of £500 million per year.

In order to realise these benefits on the ground, the report recommends, among other things:

  • The integration of natural capital into the National Infrastructure Plan, to incorporate nature into each of the main infrastructure sectors.
  • The Government should decide how to fund the protection, improvement and maintenance of natural capital over time.
  • The Government should assign responsibility for monitoring the state of natural capital in the longer term.

The NCC also urges the inclusion of guidance on green infrastructure as a central element of National Planning Practice Guidance. This comes at a time when the Department for Communities and Local Government has archived existing guidance which will undermine the integration of green infrastructure in the planning process, an issue the Landscape Institute took up with the Government last week.

The NCC’s term expires in September 2015. This will help ensure that its recommendations are considered by a future Government after May’s election.

Read the full report here.

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