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Green jobs could bring 16,000 new roles to deprived areas, says think tank

Green Alliance research found jobs in coastal restoration, tree planting and urban green spaces could make a dent in unemployment
Image credit: Anna Shvets / Pexels

Green jobs could bring 16,000 new employment opportunities to deprived areas across Britain and protect the environment at the same time, according to new research.

Green Alliance, in research conducted by WPI Economics (WPI), found coastal restoration, tree planting and urban green spaces are all areas with potential to create jobs after a decade of austerity and the pandemic has left many areas desperate for investment.

Sam Alvis, head of green renewal at Green Alliance, said: “The opportunity is there for the chancellor to create a legacy of new high quality jobs across Britain. Supporting innovation in these types of green jobs will put nature at the heart of the government’s levelling up agenda and help local communities build back better and greener.”

Improving the quality and quantity of urban parks could create 11,000 jobs in traditional working class ‘Red Wall’ areas such as County Durham, Copeland and Wolverhampton. The report also found the potential for seagrass planting could help coastal communities with a higher proportion of workers on furlough like the Isle of Wight.

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The Woodland Trust has joined other environmental groups and Green Alliance in calling for environmental projects to be included in the Westminster government’s £4.8bn levelling up fund to drive green jobs.

WPI matched employment data in constituency areas with maps identifying the potential for nature restoration to find locations with potential for green jobs. The research found 16,000 viable green jobs in 126 of Britain’s communities facing the most significant employment challenges coming out of the pandemic.

This will help increase employment opportunities as well as leading to happier, healthier communitiesDr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust

That method uncovered the possibility of restoring wetlands and seagrass meadows in Welsh coastal communities like Anglesey and Newport while underemployment and lower forecast job growth across the Pennines could be tackled through peatland restoration initiatives.

The data also showed two thirds of the best land for tree planting can be found in constituencies with higher than average labour market challenges, with 112,000 hectares of this land in Red Wall areas. 

Dr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said the Trust’s Northern Forest project – to plant 50 million around the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull – has already proven the benefit to green jobs.

“Increasing native tree cover is a key part of the levelling up agenda shaping places people will want to live, visit and invest in. This will help increase employment opportunities as well as leading to happier, healthier communities,” he said.