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Mayor James Palmer pledges green recovery in Cambridgeshire as RSPB finds overwhelming support for nature

The RSPB has urged Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer to put nature at the heart of coronavirus recovery plans - and he has promised to do so.

The charity, which is headquartered in Sandy, Bedfordshire, pointed to findings from a YouGov poll that confirmed overwhelming public support for the policy.

A barn owl in flight (36925516)
A barn owl in flight (36925516)

Some 87 per cent of respondents in England agreed living near nature is beneficial during the coronavirus outbreak, and 84 per cent supported the suggestion that the government should increase the number of accessible nature-rich areas in the UK.

Four out of five strongly opposed the idea of the government reducing spending on nature, while three quarters agreed that nature could contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.

The survey also found inequalities in access to nature.

UK households with an annual income under £10,000 are 3.6 times more likely to have no outdoor space where they live, and about 40 per cent less likely to live within a 10-minute walk of any publicly accessible natural greenspace, than people with a household income of £60,000 or more.

Results of the RSPB survey (36925486)
Results of the RSPB survey (36925486)

Emma Marsh, director of RSPB England,said: “The results of the survey are striking in the sheer level of public agreement about the importance of nature, not only in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown, but as we look forward and plan for our recovery from this crisis. They also highlight the inequality that exists in people’s access to nature, with the least well-off also the most deprived of nature where they live.

“Mayor Palmer has a key role to play in leading the recovery from coronavirus in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. As the Combined Authority starts to plot a route to recovery, he has a chance to dramatically improve people’s health and wellbeing and the resilience of communities by supporting and prioritising measures that increase nature and natural greenspace at the same time as creating jobs and investment, and stimulating the economy.

“That is why we have written to mayor Palmer today to share this report and ask him to take steps to build nature into region’s recovery plans. I hope we will be able to work together with the mayor and the rest of the Combined Authority to identify some of the initiatives that will help to deliver an equitable and environmentally sustainable economic recovery from coronavirus.”

Results of the RSPB survey (36925488)
Results of the RSPB survey (36925488)

Mr Palmer said a green recovery would be at the heart of the Combined Authority’s approach.

He told the Cambridge Independent: “We are blessed with the amount of green space we have in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and I have signed up to the Natural Cambridgeshire commitment to doubling nature in our region through sympathetic development and restoring existing habitats.

“We have recently announced the chair of our independent climate change commission, Baroness Brown, which will report later this year on practical solutions to the problems of climate change in our region.

Access to nature is good for our wellbeing (36925525)
Access to nature is good for our wellbeing (36925525)

“Last week we announced £2.9million from central government to help local authorities in bringing about additional cycling infrastructure, and we continue to advance delivery of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, a zero-emissions transport system that could take thousands of cars of the roads every day.

“The government has tasked the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to bring forward economic recovery post Covid-19, and we are committed to ensuring that economic recovery is a green one.”

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