OPTIMISTIC Government plans to bring prosperity to the North of England to match the boom in the South East have been criticises as "too vague" and a possible danger to the countryside by one of England's most respected countryside bodies.
The Northern Way Strategy is yet another ambitious programme from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott - whose record of success with such schemes in other areas leaves much to be desired - and its aim is to raise Northern economic growth to that in the South.
But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) issued a statement at the weekend saying "unless the strategy's action plan takes into account wider environmental issues, it may put at risk the very assets, such as easy access to beautiful countryside, that underpin Northern quality of life."
Says Clare Mumford, CPRE's North West Regional Policy Officer:
"The problem is, that although there are some good words in the Northern Way Growth Strategy, the promises are all very vague. And when you look at its supporting documents, there are some worrying signals that contradict the main messages.
"While the strategy talks of protecting natural assets, for instance, it also contains proposals to expand air and road transport capacity and spin-off developments around them. This could mean damaging new development in the open countryside and the Green Belt."
Copies of the 22-page report On the Right Path: how to keep the Northern Way on course for sustainable development, can be downloaded from the CPRE's national website news releases page: http://www.cpre.org.uk/news-releases/news-rel-2005/index.htm