The UK2070 Commission has published a paper by SWEEP colleagues from the University of Exeter.
Professor Ian Bateman OBE, FRSA, FSB and Sara Zonneveld have co-authored Building a Better Society: Net environmental gain from housing and infrastructure developments as a driver for improved social wellbeing – a paper which considers net environmental gain in the context of both the built urban environment and of human wellbeing.
The paper was published by the UK2070 Commission, an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the United Kingdom. Chaired by Lord Kerslake, it has been set up to conduct a review of the policy and spatial issues related to the UK’s long-term city and regional development.
Bateman and Zonneveld find that in real terms spending to enhance environmental quality, especially in terms of urban or peri-urban green infrastructure, is at a historic low – this despite environmental enhancement being found to directly improve wellbeing and to regenerate local economies. They find that this is particularly pertinent as those who have to endure low-quality environments often suffer from degraded health and a lower life expectancy which in turn could both be boosted by such an intervention. The paper considers the recent UK Government proposals for the introduction of a net Environmental Gain requirement upon building new housing and potentially infrastructure, and presents a number of examples to enhance social wellbeing through improved decision-making regarding the siting of environmental improvements, particularly arguing against constraining compensation to be awarded as close as possible to developments, but to instead consider a regional scale for such undertakings.
Professor Ian Bateman OBE is an environmental economist with a research interest centred around ensuring sustainable wellbeing through the integration of natural and social science knowledge within decision making and policy. He received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for 2011-2016 and has worked as an adviser or consultant to Defra, the DfT, the DoH and the OECD amongst others. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE for services to environmental science and policy, and is also a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Biology.
Sara Zonneveld is is a biologist with a background in ecology and ornithology. She is an Impact Fellow with SWEEP where she is working on natural capital approaches in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks; alongside a range of other projects.