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Bold agenda set to put environment at heart of every decision

15 March 2021

Bold agenda set to put environment at heart of every decision View from Dunstable Downs. BBA Photography

New Environment Principles set out clear ambition to protect, restore, enhance and create new nature areas and natural capital assets across the Arc region.

The Arc Leadership Group, which includes SEMLEP, has endorsed new environment principles that seek to secure practical ways to increase nature and simultaneously stimulate the green economy, working to achieve net-zero carbon goals.

The UK Government has already set out its intention for the Arc to be the UK’s fastest growing economic region and a world-leader in sustainability. The recent policy paper, Planning for sustainable growth in the Arc outlines Government’s aim to take a new approach to creating economic and spatial policies that will unlock the Arc’s ‘unique economic and environmental opportunity.’ It confirms government recognition that the Arc’s success is key to the UK’s national prosperity, international competitiveness and, the ability to meet challenges and opportunities we will face as a country over the next century, which includes climate change and supporting nature recovery.

Looking specifically at the sustainability goals for the region, Peter Horrocks CBE, SEMLEP’s Chair has penned his initial thoughts to the Government’s approach.

Read Peter Horrock's latest blog post here:
Where's the leaf in the Green Arc

The Environment Principles embodies local commitment to adopting an approach that results in environmentally sustainable economic growth. The aim for the principles to be embedded into emerging Arc plans and statements, including local plans, local council activities as well as delivery programs for bodies operating in the Arc. Each member of the Arc Leadership Group will be taking the principles through their individual decision-making boards and groups.

These principles will form the basis for creating an Ox-Cam-wide Environmental Strategy that embraces everything from green spaces to housing standards, to sustainable transport, energy generation and transmission and water management and, conservation. Work has already started on the Environment Strategy, which will take around 12-18 months to complete. 

Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council chairs the Arc’s Environment Working Group. “If we are to double the economic growth in the Arc then we must, as a minimum, be doubling nature and ensuring that we lead the way in zero carbon living and working.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all of the different groups and individuals who have contributed to these principles and we now look forward to working closely with Government and colleagues locally on taking the next steps. It will include embedding these principles into our planning so we can empower our businesses and residents by giving them better choices.

“If we do this well, we hope that other regions and countries will be looking to the Oxford-Cambridge Arc as the leading place for environmentally sustainable development, just as we look to the Netherlands for best practice in cycling and cycling infrastructure."

Hilary Chipping, SEMLEP's Chief Executive said, "SEMLEP welcomes the Environmental Principles from the Arc Environment Group.

These are aligned with our work over many years from when we first convened a group of Local Nature Partnerships from across the SEMLEP area to input into the Local Industrial Strategy. Through this work, we were recognised by Defra as providing a logic chain to demonstrate the importance of an environmental project. In this case the Bedford to MK Waterway Park was acknowledged as delivering multiple outcomes including flood alleviation, water movement to drier areas, opportunities for exercise to contribute to physical and mental health and wellbeing and contributing to sustainable economic growth.

"We are keen to embed these Environmental Principles in our approach to future opportunities for grant funding innovative projects."

The Environmental Principles can be downloaded here:
Arc Leadership Group Environment Principles

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