Thursday, 2 June 2011
£30bn for the UK's natural spaces
Assume somebody wanted to buy all of the UK's natural space and cover it in tarmac and concrete, what would they need to pay? In their UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA), DEFRA today revealed what they have calculated to be the value of the UK's ecosystem's. Far from being a financial burden the UK NEA proves that the annual benefit to the economy of our green and blue spaces is somewhere around the £30bn mark. So, does this mean that if I wanted to buy all of this natural space I would need to compensate the Government to the tune of £30bn? Well, no, not quite. If looked at in purely financial and economic terms, I would need to ensure that I contribute at least £30bn a year to the economy as a result of changing the use of this land and water. If I couldn't guarantee that, I would assumedly need to pay 100 x £30bn plus interest at the rate of inflation to cover 100 years worth of loss, or maybe it should be 200 years, or 300? I'd also need to buy the land and a competitive market rate, that is likely to be loads more than £30bn. However, by throwing up a load of luxury apartments on say Hyde Park and Regent's Park, I could probably charge rents totaling more than enough in London alone. Or how about I buy Hyde Park, keep it as it is, but charge an entry fee to the public? Luckily I don't think DEFRA are looking at it this way, I'm confident that they recognise that some things truly are priceless. Then again, we have to pay an entry fee to get onto some National Trust land.