Putting environment first

L-r: Stephen Catchpole and Adrian Vass at Greatham Creek
L-r: Stephen Catchpole and Adrian Vass at Greatham Creek

AN agreement between business leaders and conservationists will help to put the natural environment at the heart of Tees Valley’s economic regeneration.

The deal involving local enterprise partnership Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) and Natural England, the Government’s environment adviser, is aimed at identifying suitable areas for new industries while protecting and enhancing important natural habitats.

Believed to be the first of its kind, the agreement builds on a close working relationship that will ensure early engagement between developers, local planners, TVU and conservation bodies to help create a smoother, solution-orientated planning process.

It is hoped it will reduce delays to development and increase the likelihood of planning permission being granted, further endorsing the attractiveness of the area to potential investors.

As well as being a thriving industrialised area supporting both the local and national economy, the Tees Estuary is also of international importance for birds such as the red knot, common redshank and little tern.

This is recognised in the designation of Teesmouth & Cleveland Coast as a Special Protection Area which carries with it legal protections.

The agreement highlights a joint appreciation of the importance of a quality natural environment in attracting business investment and people to the Tees Valley area.

Stephen Catchpole, managing director of TVU, and Adrian Vass, area manager for Natural England, launched the agreement at Greatham Creek on the outskirts of Hartlepool which is a haven for common terns and wading birds as well as common and grey seals.

It is also part of Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, one of the jewels in the country’s conservation crown.

Mr Catchpole said: “We believe that the successful diversification of the Tees Valley economy will be achieved by partners and stakeholders working together to promote our attributes and tackle head-on any barriers to growth.

“This agreement with Natural England acknowledges a holistic approach to ensuring that Tees Valley achieves its potential while appreciating the natural assets the area has to offer.”

Mr Vass said: “It demonstrates a shared commitment to the natural environment, as well as recognition of the contribution it makes to economic growth and to the lives of the people employed.

“It is also a shared recognition of the need to facilitate economic development and secure growth.”