The landscape and communities of the Marston Vale have witnessed many changes of the last century and more, and to some degree change is once again what they will witness over the coming decades and beyond as the Forest of Marston Vale is created. The creation of the Forest, though, is a positive change for the Marston Vale, helping transform the landscape and prospects of this once degraded and industrialised area – creating a new, well-wooded landscape in which people want to live, work and enjoy their leisure time.
The vision to create the Forest provides a blueprint for the environmental, social and economic regeneration in the Marston Vale to 2031 and beyond. Whilst planting millions more trees is at the heart of the vision for transforming the Vale, there will be other changes too, as the area continues to be a dynamic one.
Development activities will continue to play a role in shaping the area, as they have for several decades. The development of land for housing, employment and other uses will continue to be controversial and potentially impact upon the environment and communities within the Vale. Whether a development proposal is granted planning permission or not is a matter for the planning authorities, not the Forest of Marston Vale Trust, but an aim of the Trust will be to work with developers and planners to make sure that any development makes an appropriate contribution to the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale.
There are a number of major projects proposed within the Forest of Marston Vale, from major tourist attraction to renewable energy projects. Some of the notable ones are listed below with links to help you find more information:
- The vision for a Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Park seeks to create a new 20-mile waterway which will link the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse in Bedford, providing a ‘green and blue’ corridor through the heart of the Forest of Marston Vale and a strategic ‘missing link’ in the national waterways network.
- The Forest of Marston Vale Trust has erected a c.120m tall wind turbine at the Forest Centre & Millennium Country Park, at the heart of the Forest, to harness nature, provide renewable electricity and so help combat global climate change. The single turbine structure has become a new, sustainable landmark in the Forest, reflecting the vision for environmental regeneration of the Marston Vale. Installation was completed in the Spring of 2014.
- Just outside the boundary of the Forest of Marston Vale, a new Center Parcs holiday village has been opened, set in woodland south of Millbrook and Lidlington. ‘Woburn Forest’ is the 5th Center Parcs location in the UK and opened in 2014. It is predicted to be a major boost to tourism in Bedfordshire, offering significant new employment opportunities, and helping to stimulate economic regeneration of the surrounding area – all with a strong environmental message.
- Rookery South Pit is the proposed site for Milbrook Power’s new Generation plant. Operating as a Simple Cycle Gas Turbine peaking plant it would be designed to provide up to 299 Megawatts (MW) of electricity. This would incorporate up to five gas turbine generators with up to five exhaust gas flue stacks, a temporary laydown area required during construction and an access road from Green Lane, near Stewartby. For more information, click here.
The future is always difficult to predict, but as the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale continues, we can be certain that this once degraded, industrialised part of Bedfordshire will become increasingly well-wooded, attractive and a much richer environment for people and wildlife, in which other changes occur.