By Mel Hughes, Natural England’s Sustainable Development Programme Director
It was good to see the collective ambition for infrastructure finally articulated in the National Infrastructure Strategy yesterday, noting a “fairer, faster and greener” approach. You might read that strapline and consider that there are binary choices to make between them. If we want faster, does that mean we are less green? if we want fair, who is this fair for and is it therefore unfair for some? The truth is that while there are discussions to be had, we should not need to make stark choices between the things we most value. We need to shift into thinking how they interplay and what new approaches can realise all the benefits. Environmental benefits are often seen as nice-to-haves or represent legal issues to deal with late in the system which understandably puts pressure on all parties – is that unfair? it’s likely more costly. However, we know that a healthy environment underpins a healthy economy so why leave discussions late in the system or disregard foreseen impacts? Without considering the environment, we are never going to tackle the challenges of recovering nature, climate change and inequalities in health and wellbeing. MORE
Header image: Designed for wildlife: the banks of the A354 Weymouth Relief Road, Dorset. Constructed in 2009, they now support 140 plant and 30 butterfly species. Credit: Stephen Brown.