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Investing in trees crucial to Liverpool City Region's future economic growth

15 February 2016

New report makes business case for £10m targeted green infrastructure improvements

New trees and green spaces could be set to help grow Liverpool city region's economy thanks to the development of a cutting-edge new Green Infrastructure Prospectus for the city region. 


Green Infrastructure (GI) is the green lungs and arteries provided by our woodlands, parks, street trees, rivers and canals. The new Prospectus identifies how creating carefully targeted new GI can help support new jobs and economic growth, and using a ground-breaking methodology sets out the business case for a series of major green projects that are ready for investment.


Eleven sites and projects across the City Region have been identified for a multi-million pound GI investment in the Prospectus. This will lead to the creation of 200 hectares of trees, green space and new nature habitats which could directly benefit the local economy by £17.9m and have a wider impact of up to £176m according to research by consultants Arup. The Prospectus also identifies 29 locations for solar PV installations and energy crops such as miscanthus grass on currently derelict land.


The new Prospectus has been commissioned by Liverpool's Local Economic Partnership and Nature Connected, the Local Nature Partnership and has won backing from major private sector developers such as Peel Group.


Richard Mawdsley, Development Director at Peel Group, welcomes the Prospectus:

 

"The role green infrastructure plays in driving growth is critical. It's is a vital ingredient in helping to create environments where people and businesses can thrive. What helps to drive growth is the creation of highly desirable places.


"With this work we now have the ability to assess the contribution GI plays in job creation and growth. This approach is genuinely cutting edge. The Liverpool City Region, in conjunction with The Mersey Forest, are leading the way – not only nationally but internationally."


Liverpool is at the leading edge of research into how trees and green spaces benefit the economy. Analysts from The Mersey Forest and international consulting firm Arup have found that problems such as poor image, risk of flood, and air pollution affect some of the city region's potential growth areas – and green infrastructure can be part of the solution.


Director of The Mersey Forest, Paul Nolan, comments:


"There are sites in the Liverpool city region with huge potential for growth but facing significant barriers to investment – and remaining pockets of derelict land that blight whole areas. What this Prospectus shows is that planting trees and landscaping isn't an added extra – it is a crucial part of removing those barriers and attracting new businesses, jobs and growth. We are also creating a attractive place to live and work."


The approach to supporting new developments with investment in GI has been trialled as part of the Peel Group Group's Wirral Waters development scheme. Alongside the new roads and buildings a network of trees and green spaces is being created including 150 street trees, turning a bleak urban landscape into one that is attractive, welcoming and colourful.


A unique mix of private sector investors and public agencies have come together to form a strategic alliance – Green EnerGI – to drive forward the portfolio of projects. The next step is to seek funding, which is likely to include an approach to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).



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