New report highlights vital economic importance of the local environment

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Tree huggers and eco warriors might have reason to feel smug today (Thursday) at the launch of a new report into the importance of the environment for business.

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), which includes Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire in its patch, is this afternoon launcing its The Economy, Naturally report at The Forest Centre, in Marston Moretaine, between Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Its basic conclusion is that it makes sound business sense to invest in the local environment.

Farmer Andrew Geary, SEMLEP board member and leader of Milton Keynes Borough Council, 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.

“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.”

Laura Kitson, author of the report and Green Infrastructure Co-ordinator at Central Bedfordshire Council, added: “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.”

The report’s key priorities include enhancing green spaces and high quality environments to ensure commercial property developers invest in the area and existing businesses are retained.