Lobby frets over South West expansion

Pushing further economic investment in the South West would be folly when the region is already the fastest growing in England, campaigners said this week.

In an analysis of future economic prospects in the region, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues against adopting a higher growth rate.

The analysis, formed as a consultation response to the region's draft regional economic strategy, suggests that the document's approach would lead to a growth rate "significantly" above current trends and argues that such an approach should not be pursued "for its own sake".

The draft strategy, produced by the South West of England Regional Development Agency, maintains that successful economic performance and investment "could significantly boost growth".

The CPRE analysis, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University economic researcher Chris Elton, found that there is much to be welcomed in the document, such as a more environmentally friendly attitude to economic development.

But it insists that a "more discerning" approach to growth should be adopted, with priority given to reducing differences in prosperity.

CPRE South West regional chairman Roger Martin warned: "The countryside is the South West's most precious asset and is already being damaged at an alarming rate."

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