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Study reveals millions live with poor access to green space

Words: Huw Morris

One in five people across 1,257 neighbourhoods in England are struggling to access green space, according to Friends of the Earth.

A study by the campaign ranked neighbourhoods across England from A with the best access to green space to E, those with the least access.

It warns that millions of people lack basic access to green space and nature, with income and ethnicity being huge factors. Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are disproportionately impacted by a worsening environment – often living with dire air pollution, little in the way of green spaces, and greater risk from the effects of extreme weather, suggests the study.

The research, supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery, reveals that almost 11 million people live in E-rated neighbourhoods with another 7.7 million in D-rated neighbourhoods. Around 42 per cent of BAME groups live in the most green-space deprived neighbourhoods.

“For many of us, lockdown exposed how critical quality outdoor space and nature is for our health and wellbeing,” said Friends of the Earth nature campaigner Paul de Zylva. “But our research shows just how much of a distant reality that is for millions of people across England who live in nature-deprived neighbourhoods.

“Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment. Greener neighbourhoods, well-insulated homes and high-quality cycling routes are some of the key parts of this.”

The campaigners call on the government to invest £4 billion a year in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to boost green space in the most deprived neighbourhoods as part of a ‘green and fair’ Covid-19 recovery plan.

England’s Green Space Gap is available here.

Image credit | iStock