Spend more on trees and less on roads – advisors to Government

Bodies set up to advise Government on the built and natural environment are calling for a shift in emphasis on public spend, with more cash needed for green spaces and urban tree planting.

This funding could be made available by cutting the cash spent on ‘grey’ build such as expanding the road network.

This is the conclusion not of radical green groups, but of key government advisors The Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment (CABE) and Natural England.

The organisations argue that this change in emphasis would help recovery from the economic recession while helping to tackle carbon emissions – with the added benefit of improving quality of life for those living in the UK’s towns and cities.

“The spend on grey schemes, like building and expanding roads, is out of kilter with spend on assets like street trees and parks and green spaces, and the public funding pot cannot be realistically expected to fully accommodate both,” say the groups in a joint statement.

“The creation and maintenance of green infrastructure will generate new and sustainable jobs in the private sector as well creating desirable areas to live and work, stimulating local business and attracting inward investment.”

Richard Simmons, CABE chief executive, argued that we have no choice but to redesign our towns and cities in response to the imperative of climate change.

“Greening towns and cities needs to be part of the Green New Deal, as much as technology” he said.

Investment in green roofs, for instance, would not only protect cities from flooding by absorbing heavy rain, cool the air in summer, improve air quality and support biodiversity, but it would also create many new jobs.

CABE and New England argue that if just 10% of the national £10 billion budget to widen and build roads was put aside, that could pay for 40 new parks, half a million new street trees, one and a half million square metres of green roofs, and 1,000 miles of safe greenways for cyclists and pedestrians.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie