The sector needs a longer-term strategy on green technology, keynote speaker Chris Brooks, corporate sustainability manager at holiday giant Center Parcs, told the event.

The Growing the Economy Naturally event at the Forest Centre Marston Vale (pictured), highlighted the importance of investing in green technologies and in promoting carbon reduction, resource efficiency and conservation.

Delegates also heard from the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire Nature Partnerships, which co-organised the event with the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership. 

Mr Brooks outlined the Center Parcs 2020 Vision, which targets areas such as carbon reduction, natural resources and biodiversity.

He said: “It is down to businesses to push for low carbon investment. The UK needs to be sending out a message to government that we are open to green technologies and investment and that we need a longer term strategy to grow our businesses.”

Dan Watson, associate at engineering and building consultancy WSP Parsons Brincker-hoff, added: “We want to be in business in decades to come and need government to be planning now for a green economy.”

SEMLEP board director Jane Roemer said: “A quarter of local people and a third of businesses in the South East Midlands are based in rural areas so our rural economic environment is a priority.”

  • A SECOND major forum on the rural economy saw the issues facing Northamptonshire’s rural businesses in the spotlight.

The sector accounts for one in five jobs across the county and more than 80 delegates at the first Northamptonshire Rural Economy Conference met to discuss the priorities for the sector.

They voiced concern that local programmes should address the rural economy’s needs and the opportunities to take advantage of available European funding programmes.

Emma Powlett, recruited by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership to work on the development and implementation of a Rural Economy Growth Programme and to lead on the development of a Rural Action Plan, said that the sector faced issues unique to those living, working and growing a business rurally.

 Others – such as the ongoing skills levels challenge – apply countywide, she added. Ms Powlett also highlighted the challenge of ongoing demand for development and growth, while protecting and enhancing Northamptonshire’s key natural and heritage features.

The Rural Economy Growth Programme aims to ensure that calls for projects to take advantage of European funding programmes are widely promoted among rural networks and have the support of those best placed to influence rural growth locally.

NEP hosted the conference at Moulton College. 

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