• Global study highlights how Green Infrastructure aids economic growth

    Investment in multi-functional green space or Green Infrastructure (GI) encourages inward investment and can attract increased visitor spending at a local level, according to findings of a new research study published today.
    The full report is available on DEFRA’s website
    GI can also benefit national economic growth by helping reduce flood risk, improve air quality and provide health benefits. This in turn boosts productivity, the study, ‘Green Infrastructure’s contribution to economic growth: a review’ found.
    The EFTEC (Economics for The Environment Consultancy Ltd) and Sheffield Hallam University report, which reviewed current national and international studies examining the link between green infrastructure and economic growth, found qualitative and quantitative evidence to show six ways in which green infrastructure acts as a catalyst to growth:
    1. Attracting inward investment – makes a local area more attractive to business investors:
    · 95 per cent of real estate developers and consultants across Europe believe that open space adds value to commercial property.
    · Developers would be willing, on average, to pay at least three per cent more for land in close proximity to open space, with some putting the premium as high as 15-20 per cent.
    · The regeneration of Glasgow Green’s park, landscape and amenities increased the attractiveness of the surrounding area, leading to additional council tax revenue of between £800K- £2m.
    2. Attracting increased visitor spend – makes a local area more attractive to tourists and visitors:
    · Spending by visitors to the Mersey Forest was £252K net gross value added (value of all economic activity in the area) per year.
    · £15m investment in Glasgow Green attracted visitors who spent £30m net additional sales in the wider economy.
    · Birmingham’s canal side development generated net visitor (boater) spending of £115K.
    3. Saving environmental costs – improves air quality, reduces the urban heat island effect, filters diffuse pollution and helps to manage flood risk:
    · Pollutants removed by trees in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, US, amounted to economic welfare benefits of US$4m, based on the cost saving of preventing the pollutants from entering the atmosphere.
    · Sheltering effects of trees could save 3-9 per cent of energy bills.
    · Increasing green cover by one per cent in urban residential areas reduces run-off from a 28mm rainfall by almost five per cent.
    4. Providing health benefits – impacts on health through improved air quality and surroundings which encourages activity and improves mental health and well-being:
    · A park in Portsmouth may be providing potential savings of £910K to the NHS as a result of improved health associated with outdoor recreation and improvements in environmental quality.
    · The World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for cycling and walking estimated the average economic benefit of 100 people starting to walk one km per day to be worth £31K/year or £305K over a ten year period. The benefit is due to reduced risk of premature death due to exercise.
    5. Generating employment:
    · The “Green space sector” (public parks departments, nature reserves, botanical/zoological gardens, landscape services and architectural services) directly employs 122,000 people in the UK.
    · After improvements in a rundown industrial estate in Wakefield, involving environmental improvements, 16 new businesses relocated to the estate, employing 200 people.
    6. Promoting food production – enabling increased productivity in the city.
    Tim Sunderland, Principal Specialist in Economics for Natural England said:
    “Our case studies show that successful local area regeneration programmes often include GI as part of their investment, because the attractiveness of the area is central to success. More importantly, but perhaps less well understood, is the contribution that GI can make to the resilience of a city and the health and well-being of the population: both of which are important to growth at a national level”.

    Posted on 21st August 2013