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CPRE Bedfordshire warns that undemocratic Local Industrial Strategy gives go ahead to massive population growth in Bedfordshire

Thursday, 29 August 2019 08:38

 

CPRE Bedfordshire condemns Government for signing off a strategy conceived by an unelected and unaccountable QUANGO that holds all of its meetings in secret.


The newly released SEMLEP Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) is calling for a continued massive and environmentally unsustainable growth in population across the SEMLEP area which includes Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Milton Keynes and the Aylesbury Vale.

This ill–conceived Local Industrial Strategy which will influence the Local Plans of all Bedfordshire local authorities, has been undertaken without any public consultation and with no environmental assessment - unbelievable at a time of catastrophic biodiversity loss and Climate Change.

The LIS which has evaded the democratic process will lead to further massive house building across Bedfordshire and the SEMLEP area – not to satisfy the needs of local people, but to encourage a huge population movement into the area from elsewhere in the UK.

 

Lois Wright, Manager of CPRE Bedfordshire said:

The SEMLEP LIS was quietly slipped out by means of a joint Government and SEMLEP statement on 19 July, about 5 weeks ago, just as the summer holidays began. 

We welcome a strategy that plans for a strong, healthy economy for Bedfordshire and the SEMLEP area however, this Local Industrial Strategy demonstrates how back-to-front our planning system is.

The starting point for economic growth should be the natural growth in the population of Bedfordshire and the SEMLEP area for which employment might be needed, with the focus then on identifying the right jobs in the right places in order to reduce unsustainable commuting. This LIS is the reverse of this process – it seeks to maximise jobs and then look to see what might be needed to support them, including the inevitable increase in long distance commuting and massive increase in population.”

 

A particular focus of the LIS is the development of the logistics/warehousing sector across the SEMLEP region.

Bedfordshire is already becoming the “warehousing capital” of the area with massive new warehouses eating up open green spaces, encouraging a huge increase in air polluting HGV’s.

In reality these warehouse are environmental disasters with very few quality jobs being created compared to the massive amount of open countryside destroyed.

This LIS will lead to the massive and unacceptable over-development of our countryside already under terrible pressure from Climate Change. It will lead to further biodiversity loss already at critical levels and reduce the quality of life of local people.

It seems to us that the Government and SEMLEP are operating in some kind of “time warp” blissfully unaware of the environmental crisis facing us all. Business as usual seems to be the strategy.

CPRE Bedfordshire is concerned that the Government and SEMLEP policy of quietly releasing key documents of huge importance to local people and the avoidance of any public consultation, is adding to the already massive “democratic deficit” experienced by the people of Bedfordshire and the SEMLEP/Ox- Cam area.

The Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson and James Jamieson, the Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council are also avoiding giving details of these new Strategies to their electorate despite being members of SEMLEP and involved in the production of the LIS. (For more see the article on page 2 of the latest edition of Bedfordshire Matters)

CPRE Bedfordshire is concerned that local Councillors are unaware of the importance of the LIS and the fact that due to the revised National Planning Policy Framework (Feb 2019), local authorities will be obliged to take account of the LIS when developing or reviewing their Local Plans.

CPRE believe that a coherent National Industrial and Housing Strategy is required, one which does not seek to apportion all economic growth and housing development to the already overheated south east of England but encourages a more equitable distribution to where it is most needed across the UK.

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