Green and Blue Infrastructure

Everybody within easy reach of an outstanding and well used network of green and blue infrastructure.

Aim 

Everybody 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.

What success will look like

Looking after the environment we have – our natural capital – and making the most of opportunities to protect and improve it.

Attractive and high-quality places for people and investment where there is easy access to green space and the natural environment is incorporated into the urban environment and design of new development. The natural environment is no longer a resource to be exploited but is valued for the financial, human, manufactured, intellectual, social and natural capital benefits that can be derived from it.

Reduction in the frequency and severity of flooding where the natural environment forms part of an integrated and catchment wide approach to water management and flood prevention.

Improved physical and mental health where close proximity to the natural environment raise levels of physical activity and support good mental health.

Connected and actively managed habitats which support people, wildlife and biodiversity to flourish.

High-quality natural environment which is actively contributing to the reduction of emissions and providing resilience to the effects of climate change.

Strengths

High quality natural environment with many nature designations.

Large amount of public open space in West Yorkshire (11.5 percent of total land area) providing £306m of welfare value such as health and wellbeing benefits.

Of the total GVA created in West Yorkshire 6.1 percent (or £3.353bn) is related to natural capital. By 2050 this could be increased to between £4.319bn and £4.566bn if natural capital assets are enhanced.

Of the tourism generated GVA in West Yorkshire 66 percent (or £1.428bn) can be attributed to nature-based activities.

Challenges

Making balanced decisions that take into consideration the impacts our activity has on the natural environment and the value and benefits of natural capital in decision making and investment.

The natural environment is typically absent from the conversation about how to address the climate emergency and the huge role it can play in reducing carbon emissions.

Climate adaptation and resilience are currently undervalued and are less of a priority when compared to climate mitigation measures. The natural environment has a large role to play in adapting and building climate resilience across our communities.

Existing funding for the natural environment is inefficient, siloed, issue and geography specific. This limits the ability to maximise the benefits and value that could be derived from the available funding.

Most deprived communities have poor or no access to a high-quality natural environment, impacting on both physical and mental health which are detrimental to productivity and inclusivity.

Policies and strategies

  • Leeds City Region Green and Blue Infrastructure
  • Strategy and Delivery Plan. Adopted December 2018. Runs to 2036.
  • Leeds City Region Energy Strategy and Delivery Plan 2018 (this is being revised and will become a West Yorkshire Tackling the Climate Emergency Strategy and Delivery Plan)
  • Draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England (2019)
  • Leeds City Region Flood Review (2016)
  • Leeds City Region Sustainable Drainage System Guidance Document (2020)
  • 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Agricultural Bill
  • Environment Bill

Who’s helping make this happen

  • Environment Agency
  • Yorkshire Water
  • Local Authority partners
  • NHS
  • Forestry Commission
  • Natural England
  • National Trust
  • Yorkshire West Local Nature Partnership
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • White Rose Forest
  • The Green Economy Panel provide advice and strategic direction on policies relating to green and blue infrastructure and natural capital. The Panel is made up of local councillors and local business representatives.

What we are doing to make this happen

Green Infrastructure Standards Trial

  • Confirmed as one of 15 areas across the country to trial these standards. The aim of the Standards is to help local authorities, developers and communities plan and design GI to provide environmental and quality of life benefits for communities.

White Rose Forest

  • Signed up to the White Rose Forest joint venture. The White Rose Forest is the delivery body tasked with the delivery of the Northern Forest in West Yorkshire.

Green Infrastructure Delivery Officer

  • Being developed to oversee the delivery of the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and Delivery Plan.

How this will meet our priorities

Boosting productivity

  • Improving health and wellbeing for all ages and abilities through the provision of green open spaces where people can exercise and improve their mental health. This leads to less sick days, improved workforce productivity and reduced business operational costs.

Tackling the climate emergency

  • Alleviation of flooding through natural flood mitigation measures preventing rapid run-off and increasing water storage capacity.
  • Carbon sequestration through tree planting and peatland restoration.
  • Improving air and water quality, reducing noise pollution and countering the urban heat island effect.
  • Contributes to the adaption of places to cope with the impacts of a warming environment.

Enabling inclusive growth

  • Reducing the disparity between residents’ access to green open space and ensuring all are within easy reach of these areas.

Delivering 21st century transport

  • Integration of green infrastructure and embedding of natural capital considerations into transport infrastructure.
  • Increases the resilience of the transport infrastructure to the impacts of future climate change e.g. flooding, heat related effects.

Securing money and powers

  • Funding required to adopt a systems level strategic approach to the enhancement of the natural environment for the benefit of West Yorkshire residents.

Page last updated: 26/08/20