Environmental improvements are not solely made for the benefit of the birds and bees, the fish and fauna. Indeed, as demonstrated by the Green Blue Infrastructure Strategy developed by Leeds City Region late last year and currently going through the approvals process, they can generate substantial economic and health benefits too.
A quotation from the draft report illustrates how seriously the powers that be take environmental improvements:
Leeds City Region has huge potential to make quality green and blue infrastructure (GBI) one of its defining characteristics. Doing so will help our economy to prosper, enable people to enjoy a great quality of life, and further enhance and utilise our natural capital. Our vision is to expand GBI so that:
“Everybody in the city region is within easy reach of an outstanding and well used network of green and blue infrastructure that reduces flood risks and supports health, the economy, the environment and a superb quality of life.”
Many of the partners in ACCP have worked as part of the development team for this work and we are delighted to see GBI right at the heart of future development in the region. The work identified 7 ‘Headline Deliverables’ that would focus work:
- Become a UK trailblazer in catchment planning and natural flood management
- Make quality GBI a defining feature of the way we do development
- 1000 miles of GBI rich corridors, including canals, rail, road, and a city region cycle route network
- Everybody within easy reach (1km) of an outstanding, diverse, well used GBI network
- Create a ‘White Rose Forest’ and increase tree cover by a third
- Flourishing uplands that manage water, store carbon and support wildlife – with peatlands in good condition trebled to over 50%
- A big rise in GBI based businesses, innovation, jobs and apprenticeships
Of course developing a strategy is just a start, we now have to implement the ambitious goals contained within it. A start on these has been made by assigning each of the deliverables to a working group and some of those groups are already making good progress. For example, the recent allocation of £1.8million to Natural Flood Management contributes towards 1, 5 and 6.
There is much more to come on this, for now it is great news that the whole topic is going beyond the traditional ‘greenie’ community. Watch this space.