Economic growth underpinned by a healthy environment

Wednesday 5th December 2012

Paul Wilkinson, The Wildlife Trusts' Head of Living Landscape

As the UK braces itself for longer-term austerity measures, The Wildlife Trusts remind the Chancellor that attempts to stimulate growth must not be at the expense of the natural environment.

The natural environment is critically important to economic prosperity and people’s well-being and quality of life.  Ahead of today’s Autumn Statement, Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape, said:

Rather than being an obstacle to economic productivity, the environment is the very basis of it

“Rather than simply building our way out of recession for short-term gain, a new long-term strategy that values the natural environment needs to be put in place.  There’s no denying there are challenges ahead but putting short-term profit ahead of our natural environment and wildlife, will erode our natural capital and quality of life”.

Supporting the natural processes on which we all rely – such as flood management, cleaning our water and storing carbon – all bring about economic benefits.  Protecting and restoring the natural environment provides jobs, and can boost local economies.  Further benefits to people include recreational opportunities, with studies consistently showing access to nature improves health and well-being.

Last year’s Autumn Statement showed an out-of-date approach by the Chancellor, casting regulation and the environment as enemies to growth.  The results of the Habitats Regulations review illustrated that neither hinder development and growth.  We hope the establishment of the Natural Capital Committee – which reports to the Chancellor – indicates an understanding that natural capital is of value to the economy.  Rather than being an obstacle to economic productivity, the environment is the very basis of it.  And there is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate the fact.

Paul added:  “We need long-term, environmentally-sustainable economic policies that will bring much-needed prosperity without destroying the natural environment that millions hold dear and is vital to us.”

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