The NHS Forest is proud to join more than 60 nature, planning, health and equality organisations in launching the Nature for Everyone campaign, calling for a ‘legal right to local nature’ to be a key component of the Government’s Levelling Up reforms.
If the government invested £5.5 billion over three years to deliver nature-rich spaces across the country, it is estimated that this would achieve £200 billion in NHS savings due to the preventative health benefits of green space. At the NHS Forest, we are no stranger to the vast preventative health benefits that access to, and engagement with, nature-rich spaces can provide. However, one in three people in England cannot access nature near their home, and the poorest communities and ethnic minorities are twice as likely to live in a neighbourhood without nature-rich spaces.
Nature provides a significant boost to mental and physical health, but across the country, access is deeply uneven. We want to see planning legislation address these inequalities by ensuring that everyone has access to nature. Through this campaign, we are calling on the government to make green space access legally binding as part of the levelling up legislation to ensure that nobody gets left behind.
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Having access to wild places and wildlife shouldn’t be a privilege, but a part of everyday life. We know how much people treasure time spent in nature near where they live but for many communities this simply isn’t possible… Our towns and cities have a huge role to play in nature’s recovery. We need to create and join up habitats, enabling species to recover and benefitting people too. It is critical that nature is at the heart of all planning and development, for wildlife, communities, and climate.”
We want to:
- Make equal access to a high-quality natural environment a key measure of success for the levelling up agenda
- Establish a new legal duty in levelling up legislation for developers and public bodies to provide equal access to nature rich green and blue spaces in new and existing communities
- Help fund improvements in access to nature by extending the levelling up fund to green infrastructure projects.