Valuing green infrastructure improvements at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland

  • Marios Zachariou

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Green infrastructure has become an integrated part of modern urban planning that attempts to address a multitude of overlapping public policies. The complex interconnection between human and environmental health renders the addressing of environmental problems paramount to public health. As part of the Northern Ireland’s ‘Make Life Better’ public health strategy, the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust envisions the transformation of the Musgrave Park Hospital’s outdoor grounds to improve green infrastructure and the access to it, the main beneficiaries being the main users of its facilities, its staff, patients, and visitors. This study was commissioned to identify the preferences of the current and potential users of the outdoor grounds in terms of green infrastructure improvements that would address their heterogeneous needs. Stated preference and revealed preference methods were employed to estimate the willingness to pay for different types of improvements and predict the corresponding increase in time spent outdoors along with the entailing welfare gains. The overarching aim is to provide the Estates Department with the monetary value of the intervention and inform them about the most economically optimal way to allocate its resources. Taking advantage of the fact that there are disparities in access to green infrastructure within the premises of the hospital, we are exploring in an experimental setting the effect of heterogeneity in the physical environment during the surveying procedure on preferences. The aim is to open a discussion about the role of exposure to nature on economic behaviour and preferences for environmental goods. The estimated mean WTP of staff, visitors, and patients for an integrated GI development is £8.04, £23.41, and £13.25, respectively. The associated increase in daily time spent outdoors under this scenario for the three groups is 9.38, 38.03, and 59.51 minutes respectively, corresponding to a 27%, 202% and 226% increase from their current levels. The total WTP of all stakeholder users which equals the amount that should be invested from taxpayer’s money in improving GI is £78,948. The current daily non-monetary value of the time spent outdoors at the outdoor grounds is £4,368 while with GI improvements, this value increases with the most conservative estimation by 47% to £6,408. Our experimental approach reveals that being exposed to nature can lead survey respondents to express different preferences for environmental improvements.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsBelfast Health and Social Care Trust
SupervisorAlberto Longo (Supervisor) & Simone Cerroni (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Green infrastructure
  • stated preferences
  • revealed preferences
  • field experiment
  • environmental valuation

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