Associate Feature: Greening the grey - why Scotland needs green infrastructure

Written by Mike Cantlay on 11 December 2017 in Comment

There are still too many areas with poor green infrastructure in Scotland, says Mike Cantlay 

Mike Cantlay, chair of Scottish Natural Heritage

Over 80 per cent of Scots live in towns and cities, so improving the quality of our urban environment is vital if we are to deliver a greener, healthier and more prosperous Scotland.

Scotland’s urban green spaces provide a range of benefits for people and nature.

Access to good quality green space helps people to get outdoors, enjoy nature and get active and healthier. Green space can also provide valuable services such as flood management, pollution mitigation, spaces to grow food and attractive routes for walking and cycling.

Considering green spaces as ‘green infrastructure’ in this way can help to create places which attract business and support healthy lifestyles and thriving communities.

But there are still many places in Scotland, often associated with areas of disadvantage, where green infrastructure is of poor quality, or is not fulfilling its potential in terms of the number of benefits it could provide.

This is why Scottish Natural Heritage is working with others to deliver better green infrastructure in our towns and cities.

SNH is currently channelling £37.5m of investment through a Green Infrastructure Fund to deliver projects across Scotland which improve or create urban green infrastructure close to areas of multiple deprivation.

We’re also carrying out research with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and others to explore how we can provide better green infrastructure through improvements to social housing.

Through our planning advice service, we’re helping planners to embed networks of green infrastructure into local development plans.

We also want to empower more communities to drive the delivery of more and better quality green spaces and to help tackle the blight of vacant and derelict land.

‘Greening the grey’ in this way can help make Scotland’s towns and cities better places to live – for both people and for nature.


Mike Cantlay is chair of Scottish Natural Heritage, which leads on the Scottish Government’s Green Infrastructure Strategic Intervention, part of the 2014 – 2020 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme.



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