Green infrastructure refers to natural and semi-natural features designed to deliver ecosystem services. It can contribute to achieving climate change adaptation and mitigation goals and can help address issues related to flooding, air quality, biodiversity and health and wellbeing. Given the importance of green infrastructure, despite the benefits, the uptake of green infrastructure is challenged by a lack of access to financing, of clarity over how it should be funded and by whom.
Local authorities are beginning to examine whether they can effectively fund green infrastructure by drawing on combinations of public, private and community funding sources. Therefore, understanding public perceptions of a range of potential funding mechanisms is a fundamental step in developing funding measures.
An online survey was designed and distributed to residents of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc to address a gap in the understanding of public perceptions of green infrastructure funding by investigating support for several funding mechanisms, and the extent to which support is associated with attitudinal, contextual and personal capability variables.
Results indicated that respondents prefer the funding of small and large-scale infrastructure to be covered by developers, with most opposition being levelled at those involving additional financial obligations from citizens. The level of support for using business levies, developer levies and green bonds was found to not change depending on the scale of the project. However, when it comes to council tax increases and community investment bonds, support decreases when it is used to fund a large-scale project, suggesting that respondents are more likely to support these mechanisms for small-scale projects. Altruistic-biospheric values, pro-environmental behaviour and trust in the government significantly affected support for most mechanisms. Individuals’ pro-environmental engagement attitudes along with their trust in the government are associated with increased support for most funding mechanisms. Therefore, while citizens may prefer the use of some mechanisms over others, their support for most mechanisms might be increased by engaging with individuals’ desires to improve the environment and by improving their perceptions of the government.
The research will inform policy makers and aid local authorities to identify suitable mixes of mechanisms that can be implemented to fund different types of green infrastructure and develop strategies to increase support and reduce barriers to implementation.
The study is part of a wider project funded by UKCRIC to accelerate progress of UKCRIC Mission 3: to develop improved understandings of how infrastructure ownership, governance and business models can be improved to deliver infrastructure that it is more responsive to innovation and change. UKCRIC is also supporting a further study co-funded with C-DICE that will explore users’ willingness to change their behaviour by shifting heat pump and electric vehicle use to periods of low local emissions.
“Whilst there are existing studies and literature on the percieved benefits and value of green infratstructure projects there was very little evidence of stakeholders’ perceptions of who should finance and how these projects should be financed. This study is an important contribution towards that goal and will support the design and implementation of future funding mechanisms. We will continue to contribute to this work, in particular looking at drivers for behaviour change.”
"Whilst there are existing studies and literature on the perceived benefits and value of green infrastructure projects there was very little evidence of stakeholders’ perceptions of who should finance and how these projects should be financed. This study is an important contribution towards that goal and will support the design and implementation of future funding mechanisms. We will continue to contribute to this work, in particular looking at drivers for behaviour change."
Prof. Paul Jeffrey, Lead Investigator for Accelerating UKCRIC Mission 3 and Professor of Water Management at Cranfield University