Campaign calls for emphasis on green values to boost economy

Green-space experts have this week launched a campaign calling for a shift in public spending on green infrastructure to address the recession and climate change.

The lobby follows a damning report from the Government's Environmental Audit Committee, which attacks the priority given to road building above green measures.

CABE and Natural England are calling on central and local government to set new priorities for funding green infrastructure that will "trigger an environmental revolution", according to CABE chief executive Richard Simmons.

The lobby kicked off during a two-day conference - ParkCity - this week, and coincides with campaigns from the Forestry Commission and Landscape Institute.

Natural England chief executive Helen Phillips said: "Sustained investment in greening England's cities would bring a huge range of environmental, economic and health benefits. These include stimulating jobs, improving people's health, creating greater urban resilience to climate change and reconnecting urban communities with the natural environment."

Although the 2008 Pre-Budget Report included a £535m "green stimulus" package to accelerate capital spending on energy efficiency, rail transport and flood defences, it has been criticised for a lack of cash for green spaces.

The Government's Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Tim Yeo MP, published its latest report on 16 March. It calls for more investment via this year's Budget.

"It is disappointing that the wider fiscal stimulus package contains hundreds of millions of pounds for road building and widening," stated the Green Fiscal Policy in a Recession report. "Meeting our climate change and renewable energy targets will require a step change in environmental investment. The Budget in 2009 should contain a much bigger and more coherent package of green fiscal stimulus."

The Forestry Commission used the conference as a springboard to launch its Urban Regeneration & Greenspace Partnership (URGP).

The URGP aims to bring together government departments and agencies, local authorities and environmental groups to create, manage and promote sustainable green spaces in towns and cities.

In addition, the Landscape Institute's policy committee met this week to finalise its Green Infrastructure position statement, which will be published next month.

- See Vox Pop, p15

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