Farrer On ... Environment offers economic solutions

It has been hard to avoid the much-debated news of prime minister David Cameron's reshuffle, with many looking to interpret the changes in every speculative detail.

From the demotion of his friend Michael Gove through to the notable promotion of more women to the cabinet, there is much for the press to be cynical about. Whatever the politics behind these changes, there is one woman in whom I am very interested.

Our new secretary of state for the environment, Elizabeth Truss, has a track record that suggests she is committed to achieving an economically and educationally competitive Britain. Her commitment to our environment, however, appears somewhat less convincing.

Having scoured through her website, the single reference to any environmental issue relates only to her Norfolk constituency's vulnerability to flooding. I am left somewhat unsure as to what this tells us about the party's environmental trajectory, and its engagement with the landscape professions, ahead of the next election.

But before we bemoan Truss's appointment as party political manoeuvring, perhaps we need to think more carefully about how the environment can be a real solution to her economic ambition. It would not hurt us to learn a little about the language of economics and investment.

Beautiful cities are desirable. They attract innovation, creativity, and investment. A commitment to public spaces will deliver the wealth creation that the minister seeks. Georgian and Victorian Britain, with their commitment to vast investment in quality place-making, have shown this is true.

So exactly what the reshuffle means for the environment is yet to be seen. But I hope that our profession will get to grips with Truss's language and be clearer on the economic benefits that investing in landscape brings. I also hope Truss recognises that this new position could offer an opportunity to achieve her economic aims. Perhaps this unlikely partnership is just what we both need.

Noel Farrer is a founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates


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Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space
 

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