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-> Greens Press -> Regional plan should prioritise happiness over economicgrowth,...
19732006-02-26

REGIONAL PLAN SHOULD PRIORITISE HAPPINESS OVER ECONOMIC GROWTH, SAYS MEP

REGIONAL development in the South-East should pursue human well-being rather
than simple economic growth, according to Green Euro-MP Caroline Lucas.

In Living in the South-East, a detailed response to a South East England
Development Authority (SEEDA) public consultation on the regions future, Dr
Lucas says the South-Easts rapid economic growth has done nothing to
improve residents wellbeing which has remained constant since 1972 in the
face of rising crime, climate change, resource depletion and family
breakdown.

Dr Lucas said: Instead of targeting simple economic growth, the
South-Easts Regional Economic Strategy should put social well-being and
environmental sustainability at its core, alongside increased economic
efficiency.

Her comments are made in response to SEEDAs public consultation on its
Regional Economic Strategy (RES) for the next decade, which proposes a
strategy of seeking to maximize economic growth and develop the regions
so-called knowledge economy.

But Dr Lucas argues for a RES which tackles the regions likely problems and
challenges from water shortages and road congestion to pockets of social
deprivation and an ageing population whilst measuring success using an
Index of Sustainable and Environmental Welfare (ISEW).

An ISEW would not include defensive spending to offset social and
environmental costs but would incorporate a value for unpaid caring and
domestic work as well as reflecting changes in income distribution.

Dr Lucas said: The South-East economy is over-heating: the absence of a
coherent regional policy is increasing the imbalance between the South-East
and the rest of the UK, and the pressure on the regions resources and
infrastructure.

The Government has proposed new houses, roads and airports for the region
when this will increase the pressure on the South-Easts fragile environment
and widen the gap between its rich and poor already wider than that
between any of the UKs regions.

SEEDAs RES will shape the future of the South-East for at least the next
ten years thats why its so important that we get it right.

Many of SEEDAs proposals for smart growth are very welcome, such as its
commitment to prioritise development on brownfield sites, and its
neighbourhood regeneration proposals. But the South-East already boasts the
highest economic growth in the UK and this does nothing to alleviate the
regions very real, and worsening, problems: the widening gap between rich
and poor, traffic congestion and inadequate public transport, lack of
affordable housing and increasing pressure on the regions environment and
natural resources.

Put simply, it is time to stop measuring economic success in terms of GDP
growth alone and prioritise such factors as sustainability, quality of life
and environmental protection too.






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