Improvements to urban areas are required so homes can be closer to green space

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Improvements to urban areas are required so homes can be closer to green space

The National Trust is calling on the government to improve access to parks, woodland and countryside from built-up areas.

The call comes as new research reveals children are not getting out and about from their homes into parks and woodland as often as they would like.

A survey commissioned by the National Trust and children’s newspaper First News suggests just over three-quarters (76 per cent) of children want to spend more time in nature.

The research also reveals that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of parents only take their youngsters to green areas once a week or less – citing accessibility as the main barrier.

The survey results come as the National Trust renews its call to make it law to be 15 minutes away from nature – a plea backed by 80 per cent of parents.

National Trust director General Hilary McGrady said: “The benefits of ensuring access to nature is plain to see, but there is unequal access to it.

“We’d like to see the largest improvement in access to urban green space since the Victorian era.

“We know from our own work, as well as the polling around this issue there is huge public appetite to address these issues – it is a real vote winner.

“The impact that being in nature has on young people is profound and we need policy-makers to stand up and develop a long-term plan to ensure everyone has access to green space.

Research shows that if children and young people can engage with nature early in life, they grow up to care about the natural world and are more likely to take action to protect it.”

The survey was commissioned to show the disparity in access to green space as well as the public demand for access.

It shows that nearly a third of parents surveyed from lower income households cite the main barrier to accessing nature as cost.

It also reveals that more than half of children want better access to nature and green space.

Research has shown that access to green space benefits children in a variety of ways including better lung health, stronger bone density, as well as mental and physical wellbeing.

And yet government data shows that 38 per cent of the country lives more than a 15-minute walk from a green or blue space.

As part of a raft of commitments to level up access to nature, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged in January 2023 that everyone will live no more than 15 minutes from green space.

Government figures have since shown this commitment is not being met and, with the pledge not legally binding it is feared this will never be the case.

Previous polling has shown that 82 per cent of voters say that conserving the environment and natural habitats is important to them, and two-thirds believe their quality of life would be improved by better access to green spaces.

Recent polling states that climate and environment policies are important and will influence how they vote in the next election.