The development of resources and information to support the planning, design and management of green infrastructure to combat climate change in North West England

Authors and Affiliations: 

Susannah Gill, The Mersey Forest, Risley Moss Visitors Centre, Ordnance Avenue, Birchwood, WA3 6QX

Paul Nolan, The Mersey Forest, Risley Moss Visitors Centre, Ordnance Avenue, Birchwood, WA3 6QX

Tom Butlin, The Mersey Forest, Risley Moss Visitors Centre, Ordnance Avenue, Birchwood, WA3 6QX


Whilst there is now a broad understanding in policy that green infrastructure provides a win-win or low regrets response to climate change, there is often less understanding of the specifics needed to support professionals and communities to enable action. To overcome this barrier, a range of resources and information were developed in the North West of England:

  • An action guidance document to aid policy development and delivery by a broad range of organisations and professions. It contains suggests actions to deliver a wide range of climate change services, and includes an assessment of how compatible these services are with each other.
  • An evidence base and report summarise key evidence to support the climate change services, and map locations across the region where green infrastructure is important for each of these.
  • An online mapping tool helps users to spatially assess potential risks and vulnerabilities to climate change in their area. It includes data relating to hazards, social and environmental vulnerability, and green and blue space, allowing non-technical users to overlay different layers of data in order to gain an increased understanding of some of the issues.
  • Training material, with pick and mix materials, to engage communities on climate change and green infrastructure.
  • A toolkit to allow developers to assess the green infrastructure present on their site before and after a planned development, suggesting potential interventions to maximise benefits.
  • Surface temperature and runoff tools, which allow users to see the impact in their neighbourhoods of greening and development on local surface temperature and runoff in a changing climate.

The resources were largely aimed at organisations and professionals, to guide aid regional and local planning, and to increase awareness of green infrastructure and build adaptive capacity. It was intended that they would have been embedded within regional planning structures, however, these have since been abolished in the UK. That said, the resources still have a range of potential uses in planning and adaptive capacity building, which will be considered.

In particular, their use the development of The Mersey Forest Plan will be explored. This is a long term plan which can be a material consideration in planning, to increase tree and woodland cover across Merseyside and North Cheshire, for the wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits that tree planting can bring, including helping to adapt to climate change and increasing community resilience. The surface temperature tool in particular was used to inform the climate change policy within The Mersey Forest Plan.


Adaptation Sub-Committee (2010). How well prepared is the UK for climate change?

Community Forests Northwest. Green Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change: part of the North West Climate Change Action Plan. Resources and information. 

Department for Communities and Local Government (2012). National Planning Policy Framework.

Planning and Climate Change Coalition (2012). Planning for Climate Change - guidance and model policies for local authorities.

The Mersey Forest (2013). The Mersey Forest Plan. N.B. At the time of writing only the consultation draft of the Plan is available on the website. The Plan is currently being finalised.