Many in UK willing to pay for green space

U. SHEFFIELD (UK) — People in the UK are willing to pay more—in taxes or rent/mortgage payments—in order to get greener urban spaces with more tree coverage, according to a new survey.

Members of the public in Sheffield and Manchester were shown images of how local areas could be developed in the future and were asked how much more they would be willing to pay for each scenario.

On Whitworth Street in Manchester, members of the public pay an average of £2.20 per month for street cleaning and £1.50 per month to maintain green spaces through council tax.

The survey found that people were willing to pay an extra £1.46 per month to maintain the street in its current state, an extra £1.61 per month if small ornamental trees were planted and up to £2.33 extra per month for large forest trees and grass landscaping.

In Sheffield city center near Blonk Street, rents or mortgage payments for small apartments are around £575 per month. The study found that people were willing to pay £4.27 more per month to maintain a new footbridge, riverside walkway, and flood defense works that have recently been completed.

If additional landscaping was undertaken in the area they would pay £8 more per month. However, they said that they would pay even more—an extra £10.81 per month—if the natural vegetation of the riverside was allowed to re-establish itself.

The more green the scenario, the more people said that they would be willing to pay for it. The scenario that included a large area of green space attracted an extra £29.21 per month from the respondents, or £358.92 per year.

“The results of this research will be used to help to improve the design of green infrastructure investments so that they more closely meet the preferences of the local communities that use them,” says John Henneberry, professor of town and regional planning at the University of Sheffield.

“This is great news and a really important piece of evidence. This work proves that attractive, green landscapes really do help create the right setting for investment, to help deliver more sustainable jobs and growth,” says Tom Wild, director of South Yorkshire Forest Partnership.

“It couldn’t come at a better time, when we are all having to think more carefully about future priorities for what little funding is available.

The research was funded by the Interreg IVB North West Europe program. The University worked closely with local policy makers before and during the surveys. In Sheffield they worked with South Yorkshire Forest Partnership. In Manchester the partner was Red Rose Forest, Greater Manchester’s Community Forest.

The two surveys were undertaken as part of a project to demonstrate the economic value of green infrastructure in cities and regions. The work in Sheffield was done in partnership with the University’s Urban River Corridors and Sustainable Living Agendas (URSULA) project. URSULA is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

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