GI policy in the UK
Summary of policies and strategies shaping the creation and enhancement of green infrastructure in the UK
Policies concerning green infrastructure in England are split between government departments as follows:
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for environment policy including access to and enjoyment of nature.
- Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is responsible for policy concerning urban green spaces; for national planning policy; and for funding the local authorities who plan and maintain many green spaces;
- Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for policy concerning playing fields; and historic gardens, parks and landscapes.
Key policies, strategies and frameworks:
- 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP) – a government-wide plan with the ambition to leave the environment in a better state than this generation inherited it. Published in January 2018, it initiated the creation of the Green Infrastructure Standards Framework. The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 is the first 5 yearly review of the 25YEP and sets out the plan to deliver it, including GI related actions.
- National Planning Policy Framework, which shapes all development in England. More detail is supplied in the Planning Practice Guidance.
- England Trees Action Plan 2021-2024
- England Peat Action Plan
- Biodiversity Net Gain
- National Nature Recovery Network
- Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 provides a powerful over-arching policy framework for all public bodies in Wales, requiring them to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. It is gradually having a significant positive impact on the provision and maintenance of green infrastructure.
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 provides a statutory process for managing natural resources sustainably.
The State of Natural Resources report (SoNaRR) assesses Wales’s sustainable management of natural resources and identifies opportunities for action.
The seven Area Statements outline the key challenges facing each place and how natural resources could be better managed, collaboratively, for the benefit of future generations.
Future Wales: the national plan 2040 is the national development framework for Wales.
Planning Policy Wales is the national guidance for making planning decisions. See Planning policy and guidance: green infrastructure
- Environment Strategy for Scotland sets the overarching policy for the environment.
- National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) shapes all new development in Scotland.
National Planning Framework 4 contains specific subject policies relating to blue and green infrastructure and a number of related National Developments, including the Central Scotland Green Network and the Urban Sustainable, Blue and Green Surface Water Management Solutions focused on the Edinburgh and Glasgow city regions.
The importance of green spaces and the natural environment is highlighted in key national policy documents in Northern Ireland such as the Regional Development Strategy: RDS 2035 and the Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland: Planning for Sustainable Development . Legislation on tackling climate change also received Royal Assent in 2022.
However, regional policy making for green infrastructure has been hampered by the lack of a Stormont government. Despite this, local authorities such as Belfast City Council and Derry & Strabane district council are developing and adopting local green infrastructure strategies.
Northern Ireland Environment Link have undertaken a thorough review of regional policy for Urban Green Spaces as part of their Vision and Routemap – see chapter 1.5 of their document for more detail.