Edwards On ... Campaigning for Landscaping

The word "austere" stems back to a word from classical Greek meaning bitter, so perhaps austerity can be looked on as a bitter pill - not something you are going to enjoy, but something necessary.

It is going to be a difficult year. The best we can hope is that the economy slowly continues to improve and that the austerity measures do not fall unnecessarily harshly on horticulture.

And they should not. The industry has rigorously pulled together evidence demonstrating the value of good landscaping - value to commercial developments, to human well-being and to the planet. The prime minister has made some noises about measuring the "happiness" of the nation and a green environment even contributes to that. So, looked at logically, there is good reason to expect that horticulture will be promoted rather than cut.

Money well spent on landscaping helps sell a development, oiling the economic wheels of the nation. An aesthetically pleasing landscape reduces the health bill. And a well-designed landscape locks up carbon and reduces noise and air pollution. Who in their right mind would choose to cut back on landscaping at a time like this?

The problem is that we have started to get the message across but it has not sunk in yet and some very well-organised industries will be doing everything they can to ensure cutbacks fall on any area but theirs. For many schemes, these austere times will prove a catalyst to reduce the quality and extent of any landscaping element. It seems perverse that just when we are starting to understand the magnitude of the benefit provided by good landscaping, we are also seeing the greatest ever pressure to reduce the extent of it.

Now more than ever we need a campaign to inform planners of the importance of landscaping and green spaces. We need local authorities to recognise the value of their green balance sheets and ensure the planning system delivers ever improving standards. The nation faces austere times ahead. Encouraging good landscape standards would certainly sugar the pill.

- Tim Edwards is chairman of Bonningale Nurseries.

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