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England’s not so green and pleasant land

New research from Friends of the Earth supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery shows 1 in 5 people in England struggle to access quality green space – be it private gardens, public parks or open fields.

The report ranks neighbourhoods from A (the best access to green space) to E (the least access to green space). Almost 11 million people live in E rated neighbourhoods with an additional 7.7 million in D rated neighbourhoods. List of E rated neighbourhoods by local authority is available here or in map form here.

Bringing together official data on the availability of green space to communities for the very first time, the research shows that millions of us lack basic access to green space and nature, with income and ethnicity being huge factors.

The findings further demonstrate that people from 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 impacts of extreme weather.

Friends of the Earth nature campaigner, Paul de Zylva, said:

“For many of us lockdown exposed how critical quality outdoor space and nature is for our health and wellbeing. 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 forthcoming spending review is an opportunity to make people happier and healthier, improve equality, and help fix the climate crisis. This would be a triple win for government investment.”

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery (whose players have helped fund this research), said:

“The findings from this research are significant. We are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of access to green space for our mental and physical wellbeing, and it’s vital that no groups are excluded. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery play an important role in funding local projects that help to achieve this, but this shows that even more needs to be done.”

Read the full report England’s Green Space Gap here (click here for a summary version).

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