Green and blue infrastructure: A transport sector perspective

CIHT gives recommendations to Government bodies and highway authorities on how to provide a better understanding and greater implementation of GBI.

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It is widely recognised that green and blue infrastructure (GBI), which encompasses natural and semi-natural features, interventions, and structures, can bring many social, environmental, and economic benefits to a local area. However, a recent CIHT survey suggests that these benefits are not fully acknowledged by the transport sector, even though the UK’s great heritage of street trees was largely created by local authority highway departments.

Despite there being a wide range of general policy and guidance relating to GBI, we have found that there is comparatively little resource given to street and road specific GBI, which is disappointing as streets and roads have the potential to play a vital role in delivering GBI. This lack of guidance is a crucial part of why local authorities (including the planning, development, highways operations, and maintenance functions) struggle to fully engage in the GBI process.

Our survey findings reveal a disconnect between authority departments as GBI proposals in planning applications move through from the policy team to the development management team, and are subsequently deployed by highways and sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) engineers. Again, this appears to stem from a lack of guidance and support available that would provide necessary information to support formalised systems within the highway network.

On this basis, we have made several recommendations to our members, central government agencies, and local authorities, which broadly cover three main tasks we believe are necessary to help improve and encourage GBI on our roads.

This document is intended for use by all the countries within the UK, but we appreciate that some phrasing is specific to the context in England. We ask that you interpret the terminology as appropriate for your country.

Sue Percy CBE, Chief Executive, CIHT said:

Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) can play an important role across our highway network in promoting healthy and safe communities, as well as helping to deliver net zero targets, adapting to climate change, and conserving and enhancing the natural environment.

In our new report, we have outlined a series of recommendations on how GBI can be implemented and the overwhelming benefits of doing so. Our challenge to highway authorities and other stakeholders is to make GBI a core component of their activity and at the heart of local policy.



In this piece, we provide the relevant context for implementing GBI, from international reports, such as the Dasgupta Review, to local council strategies. We then discuss the findings from a CIHT survey that gathered the opinions of those working in the transport sector on GBI, which found that there is a lack of awareness in the sector on what GBI is and that this knowledge gap is slowing planning and implementation progress. Finally, we detail how we see our recommendations being implemented. It is our belief that if all players involved in the GBI process understand what is required to succeed at each stage (planning, design and delivery, adoption, and maintenance) we will see more innovative and successful GBI projects.



Greater promotion of GBI

As a professional transport body we believe we have a great responsibility in this area, so the CIHT has set out to:

  • Work with government bodies such as the Department for Transport (DfT), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and local authorities to raise the profile of GBI and jointly promote the associated benefits
  • Provide a CIHT Learn course on GBI in the transport sector call for evidence on GBI within our transport network.

We ask our members to:

  • Make the most of resources provided
  • Actively get involved in discussions about GBI
  • Seek to implement GBI into future projects.

We recommend that local authorities:

  • Promote the benefits of GBI to your employees and those you work with
  • Undertake the necessary skills training to better understand how GBI can be implemented and maintained effectively.

Improved GBI guidance for local authorities

To help support local authorities, the CIHT will: 

  • Work with the UK Roads Leadership Group (UKRLG) to develop a set of national GBI standards and specifications
  • Provide a CIHT Learn course on best practice on the end-to-end GBI process and guidance on what GBI suppliers should be providing.

We recommend that the DfT:

  • Sets GBI guidelines for local authorities to follow
  • Includes GBI criteria within the DfT incentive fund self-assessment

Empowered local authorities

We recommend that central government bodies:

  • Review current funding available to encourage GBI
  • Create a nationally agreed framework for commuted sums.

We recommend that local authorities:

  • Establish formalised systems to include GBI within the highway network and planned improvements
  • Create a performance framework for GBI to measure success and assign responsibility for targets.
>>> Access the whitepaper here



CIHT would like to acknowledge and thank both the steering group and the respondents who completed our Green and Blue Infrastructure survey between March and May 2022


Want to find out more? 

Join our next masterclass on Thursday 16th March at 1pm as we discuss the ‘Green and Blue Infrastructure: A Transport Sector Perspective’  report. 

During the webinar we willlook at what needs to be done to encourage greater GBI implementation on our streets, roads and highways.

You will hear from key members of our GBI steering group who helped write this report as they discuss how GBI can be effectively incorporated to create more resilient roads and commonly overlooked benefits of GBI.

There will be a Q&A session towards the end of the webinar where the audience can ask the speakers their questions.

>>> Secure your place here


Help, Support and Media Enquiries

If you have any questions please contact  

For media enquires please contact the CIHT Communications Team at or +44 (0)20 7336 1555 (Option 4)


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