Environment is key to inward investment, says SEMLEP report

Aug 19, 2013


The study looks at the relationship between environment and economy across the South East Midlands and concludes that the environment underpins economic performance and plays a leading role in supporting sustainable economic growth and quality of life.
Milton Keynes Council leader Cllr Andrew Geary pictured, a farmer and SEMLEP board member, said: “The natural environment is a fantastic asset for the South East Midlands; from the designed urban green networks and large rural hinterland in Milton Keynes, to the rural Rockingham Forest, Whittlewood Forest, Greensand Ridge and the Chilterns, to the network of rivers and waterways that link the urban and rural areas.
“This green network underpins the economy. It attracts businesses and investment, provides recreation and relaxation space for healthy and productive communities, attracts tourists and visitors and provides the classroom for developing skills in the green economy.”
He was speaking at the launch of the It’s The Economy, Naturally report at the Forest centre, Marston Moretaine.
Key areas identified as priorities in the report include:
  • Enhancing green spaces and high quality environments to ensure commercial property developers invest in the area and existing businesses are retained;
  • Protecting and promoting the natural and historical assets to protect and develop the visitor economy;
  • Creating attractive, green places where people want to live and work so as to create the right environment for businesses and social enterprises to grow;
  • Managing environmental risks by investing in green technologies and focusing on flood management, improving water quality and reducing urban temperatures;
  • Supporting and developing skills in sustainable land management and green technologies.
The report author Laura Kitson, green infrastructure co-ordinator at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Too often the environment can be seen as a barrier to growth, but this is simply not the case. In the South East Midlands it is the natural environment that makes it such an attractive place to live, work and visit.
“The environment and economy of the South East Midlands depend on each other and this report looks at how economic and environmental improvements can be delivered together.”
Cllr Geary said: “Understanding the role of the natural environment is vital if we are to deliver our aim of creating the right environment for businesses and social enterprises to grow. It is a great selling point as we promote the South East Midlands as a prime location for businesses, investors and visitors.”
Cllr Richard Stay, who chairs the Bedfordshire Local Nature Partnership, added: “The green economy needs to be embedded into our growth agenda. We have high housing targets in this area and it is essential the green economy is part of the day job for our planners.”
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