‘Tree hugging is not part of bid to put nature on the agenda’

Nature is being put on top of the economic growth agenda in the Bedfordshire region with the launch of a new report.

The launch of SEMLEP's repport It's the economy, naturally
The launch of SEMLEP's repport It's the economy, naturally

But local politicians insist the report, called ‘It’s the Economy, Naturally is neither a developers’ charter to build all over the Green Belt nor about ”slightly nutty” treehugging environmentalism.

Councillor Richard Stay, who represents Caddington, Hyde, Kensworth, Slip End, Studham and Whipsnade on Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “What I am very keen to promote is the green economy, actually ensuring that it makes economic sense to ensure that the beautiful environment we live in is not only enhanced and we protect what we’ve got but we embed the green economy into the growth agenda.”

Mr Stay has found himself chairing the Bedfordshire Local Nature Partnership, a new organisation tasked with, among other things, proposing action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The launch of SEMLEP's repport It's the economy, naturally

He said he was pleased to report that the partnership was not for “treehuggers and environmentalists who are slightly nutty.”

Another partnership group, called South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) launched the report at a gathering at the Forest Centre, in Marston Moretaine, on Thursday.

SEMLEP says one of the main reasons people do business in the region, which stretches from Corby to Caddington and Biggleswade to Banbury, is the area’s beautiful countryside.

Andrew Geary, a SEMLEP board member and leader of Milton Keynes Council, said the report is not a “developers’ charter”.

Mr Geary, a livestock farmer, said: “Green fields and open space are more than just about being places where we can grow the urban environment and build more houses, we’ve got far more to offer than that.”

The report, available at www.semlep.com sets out overarching principles and opportunities.

Gareth Dalglish, area manager for government agency Natural England urged: “You must convert good words into real action.”