Ox-Cam Arc Leaders put environment at heart of all decisions

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 Oxford-Cambridge Arc Leadership Group has this week endorsed new environment principles that seek to secure practical ways to increase nature and find innovative solutions to managing natural resources, as it stimulates the green economy and works 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. These principles provide a clear statement of regional intent that embodies local commitment to adopting an approach that results in environmentally sustainable economic growth.

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council and Chair of the Arc Leaders Group, said: “The work that has been done on putting forward this set of principles will allow us to be ambitious and aspirational for the Ox-Cam Arc. These principles will embrace green spaces, housing standards, sustainable transport, energy generation and transmission and water management and conservation.”

Published ahead of work on the Government’s Arc Spatial Framework, which will create a long- term plan to deliver the Arc’s strategic growth and infrastructure needs, the aim for the Environment Principles is for them to inform emerging Arc plans and statements, including local plans, local council activities as well as delivery programmes for bodies operating in the Arc.

The Arc Leadership Group’s Environment Working Group has started work to develop an Environment Strategy. This piece of work will help to set the roadmap and trajectory for delivering the ambitious Arc Environment Principles and the Green Arc. The scope of the strategy is currently being developed in collaboration with a Cranfield University MSc programme, which will map out what the strategy should include, referring to best practice in fast growing regions globally. It is likely that the strategy will take 12-18 months to complete.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The county council has a strong track record of partnership working and is well placed to support this important work via the proposed Environment Advisory Group of the Oxfordshire Growth Board. We can point to many examples of current partnership activity on climate action, including action for net zero carbon emissions, resilience to climate change and renewal of the environment including biodiversity.”

The Environment Principles and the Environment Strategy work will be used to inform the group’s input to the Government’s Arc Spatial Framework, expected to be published in 2022. 

Councillor Bridget Smith, Chair of the Arc’s Environment Group and Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council said: “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.”

The Environmental Principles can be downloaded here: https://www.semlep.com/modules/downloads/download.php?file_name=2306