Beckett says downturn must not block green development

The drive to create quality greenspaces must not be averted because of economic challenges, housing minister Margaret Beckett stressed this week.

Beckett pledged her support for creating green infrastructure at the ParkCity conference on Tuesday.

The former environment minister announced £1m to train 60 new green-space apprentices at the conference, organised by CABE and Natural England.

"Despite all the clear benefits we can identify to the community, health and the economy, green infrastructure can be all too easily dismissed," said Beckett.

"As times get tough, it is easy to undo all the good work of the past few years. I'm determined we must not return to that way of thinking. It is too short-sighted."

Communities & Local Government is to put £1m into training and new apprentices in 44 local authorities.

"This is just one immediate step being taken and we'll continue to work with CABE Space and other organisations to fill the skills gap," added Beckett.

CABE chief executive Richard Simmons said: "The credit crunch is masking the energy crunch and the climate crunch."

London Development Agency design director Peter Bishop added: "This is not an option or a luxury - it is an absolute necessity."

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