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The £7bn potential of undeveloped land

Making changes to the way undeveloped land is used could have £7bn of benefits across the UK, according to Aecom.

Aecom said optimising the potential of natural capital could turn liabilities into assets.

The consultant has developed an evaluation tool it says can assess the value that could be created for the public and for private individuals from land that is otherwise underused.

A pilot study undertaken at National Grid sites in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire showed that an estimated £9,000/ha of natural capital improvements could be made.

Natural capital is defined as a stock of natural ecosystems that yields a flow of valuable services.

For example, a set of trees can provide timber resources for sale; it can slow water flows, reducing flood risk; offset carbon emissions; or provide marketable mountain biking opportunities.

“Businesses that own a substantial amount of land typically have areas that they can’t use productively if, for example, they can’t get planning permission for developing it,” said Aecom senior environmental economist Chris White.

“This land then essentially becomes a liability in terms of ongoing maintenance and security costs.

“The tool we’ve developed for National Grid enables organisations to easily assess and build a business case for managing this land differently for the first time.

“They’re able to turn pieces of land from liabilities into assets by investing in ecosystem services enhancements.

“We believe the tool and approach we’ve created can be replicated for other large landowners, helping them to achieve a broad range of potential benefits that can be passed on to multiple stakeholders.” 


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