A report has confirmed what country dwellers have known for centuries: that investment in the countryside offers excellent value for money.

Published by Natural England (NE), the Microeconomic Evidence for the Benefits of Investment in the Environment (MEBIE 2) shows that investment in Nature can, in some contexts, offer better value for public investment than ‘hard engineering’, by providing services such as water filtration, water quality and flood defences.

As the average annual cost of flooding in England is £1 billion and 5.2 million houses are at risk of flooding, it’s estimated the flood defence benefits of a scheme at Alkborough Flats in the Humber Estuary are worth £12.26 million over 100 years.

Greenery helps reduce air pollution – half an acre of green roof can remove 187Ibs of air pollutants in a year – and visiting the countryside is a big money-spinner: in 2012-13, 2.85 million visits generated expenditure of up to £24.5 billion.

Jonathan Harington of Haringtons UK agrees with the suggestion that 95% of property developers and consultants are willing to pay at least 3% more for open space beside commercial property. He says that a country house in a plum situation, surrounded by mature trees, can command as much as 20%-30% more than one without so much outside space. ‘People always go on about location, but position-away from road and plane noise-is more important. The only thing you should be able to hear when you’re sat outside is ice clinking in your glass.’

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