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What the industry wants from the next UK government’s green agenda 

by | 27 Jun 24 | Commercial Landscaping, Landscape Architecture, Long Reads, Nature & Biodiversity

Stock image of a ballet vote for the article: What the industry wants from the next UK government's green agenda 

With the general election on the horizon and party manifestos dominating the headlines, Pro Landscaper looks to the land-based industry to ask the question; what does it want from the next UK government’s green agenda?


Green-skill promotion

“I would like to see properly funded and promoted green skills training. There is so much spoken about biodiversity, planting of woodland, care of green spaces for generations to come etc, but the skills required to deliver these outcomes are undervalued and in short supply. I would like to see recognition of the value of horticulture to society, funding to train people in these skills to deliver a green agenda and understanding that these professionals need to be paid appropriately to reflect their skill sets.”

Brian Hawtin BA(Hons) CMLI
Associate landscape architect at Huskisson Brown 


The industry’s skill shortage is neither new or a secret, and it is being further exacerbated by the rollout of nature-fronted legislations and green policies.

Land-based training body, Lantra, recently commented on the delivery of apprenticeships in the industry, saying they are “under-utilised” and in “need of reform”.


“The Association would like to see emphasis on the importance of the vocational and academic aspects of Landscaping, recognising the role our sector offers in achieving governmental targets. The training and qualifications the Association, Colleges, and wider sector provide are vital in making the landscaping sector a skilled, competent, diverse, and dynamic workforce.

We would like the government to recognise Landscapers as a key component of a sustainable future. Furthermore, planning departments should work closer with BALI so that green placemaking is higher up the planning and infrastructure agenda with the same level of importance as the building structures.”

Tom Edwards
Head of policy and public affairs, BALI


Countless studies highlight the positive impact spending time outdoors can offer, as well as the influential impact nature can have on the younger generation in encouraging environmental stewardship.


“I would like to see the next government commit to integrating outdoor learning into the educational curriculum. By investing in school gardening programs and sustainable outdoor initiatives, we can create a

generation that values environmental care and health.

From my experience, the positive impact on teachers and pupils is clear, incorporating outdoor learning supports children’s mental and physical wellbeing. This approach not only enhances learning but can also alleviate pressures on our health system in the long run. To make a lasting difference, we must start prioritising these initiatives from the beginning of a child’s life.”

Lee Connelly aka the Skinny Jean Gardener
Children’s gardening educator and author

The Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild © Evie and Tom photography



The long-term

“I would like to see much greater protection of nature in law. There has been a lot of discussion on cleaning up our rivers and mass-planting of trees to increase our canopy. Trees help boost wildlife, provide shelter for livestock, prevent soil erosion, reduce flooding to name just a few.

However, without a good maintenance plan once the trees are planted, we will continue to see the decline in survival rate of so many of these newly planted areas. We should also question the single use plastic tree guards being used to protect young trees and saplings from wildlife, are they absolutely necessary, and if so, surely there is something other than plastic that could do the job.”

Laura McArthur ACIHort
Horticultural lecturer, WCG, YPHA industry coordinator


Tree Shelter Recycling


Late last year Tubex Nature made moves to steer away from single use tree shelters, opting to expand its biodegradable tree shelters range. The company also launched its 2024 Tree Shelter Collection and Recycling Programme earlier this month, imploring users to collect their tree shelters to be recycled.


“Carefully considering site soils alongside how waste materials already on site might be repurposed as planting substrates has the potential to reduce waste and transportation. Both of which have financial and environmental costs.

All too often soils are left heavily compacted with implications for future plant growth, drainage, and water run-off. Soils are also important carbon-sinks. Soils are not ‘waste products’ yet are classified as such. Soil is the foundation of what makes a garden a garden, the all-important green stuff. Soil Protection Orders, similar to Tree Protection Orders, would help the cultural shift needed.”

Helen Elks-Smith
Garden designer and owner, Elks Smith Garden Design


Achieving net-zero

“The next government’s term of office represents 20% of the dash to net zero, the window of opportunity to change is closing fast so this is critical. I hope for an agenda that has ambition and the commitment to deliver it. Better awareness, research and informed policy making around green issues is critical if we are not to miss the boat, to see politicians and professions who are engaged with and understand natural capital.”

Chris Churchman
Director, cquester


Minimising developmental impact

“We would like to see a reduction in VAT from 20% to 5% on home improvement products that save energy. Awnings & Pergolas when installed against a property have a significant and often overlooked proven passive cooling effect, acting like natural air conditioning, mitigating overheating subsequently keeping buildings cool without the need for energy hungry cooling devices such as portable and fixed air con units that emit large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

A reduction will help, as is the case in Europe, consumers to harness the energy saving benefits from external shading products by lowering the initial investment, making it affordable to more and helping to cut the countries CO2 output along with save consumers on cooling costs.”

Stuart Dantzic
Managing director at Caribbean Blinds UK Ltd


Battersea Deluxe Outdoor Living Pod from Caribbean Blinds


“What is needed is a coherent strategy around all developments – commercial, residential or infrastructure that defines, incentivises and enforces resource management within landscape associated with the built environment through the planning system … water, soil, drainage, habitat, carbon inputs etc. – not simply targets at the capital elements, but an ongoing duty on sustaining the claimed outcomes.

As examples of policies, a big one would be to reverse the VAT structure which currently favours demolition and rebuild over reuse – this would take time but is essential. Soft landscape could be zero-rated.”

John Wyer, FLI FSGD
Chief executive of Bowles and Wyer


On-top of the cost-of-living-crisis, and the climate and biodiversity crisis, the country is also experiencing a housing crisis. More developments are needed to house the nation’s population.

Efforts have been made to improve the environmental damage caused by development, as seen by the roll-out of the biodiversity net gain legislation earlier this year.



“As a company committed to environmental stewardship, we’d like to see the green agenda prioritise biodiversity net gain, ecological enhancements, and nature-friendly developments through clear, enforceable legislation.

Our sector’s mission will be to achieve this with strong national guidance and regional partnerships, driving nature-based landscaping solutions. Being biodiversity-focused enhances climate security, cools cities, and creates vibrant, welfare-supporting greenspaces. A clear gain for us all.”

Jason Knights
Managing director, Ground Control


Regardless of the results, it is obvious the industry believes so much more is needed to facilitate the fundamental resources on offer to combat the current list of emergencies threatening the nation and on a larger scale, the planet. 

The Landscape Institute sums up what is needed from the next UK government’s green agenda here; 

“The UK faces multiple, interrelated crises, from climate and nature emergencies, to public health, wellbeing, and housing. The next government must address these challenges with connected policies and landscape-led, nature-based approaches, which add positive social, environmental and economic value to our country.”

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has also officially released its Environmental Horticulture Manifesto, outlining ten key priorities for a future UK Government. It can be found at

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