WE OFTEN describe ourselves as a 'green borough' where there is pride in the quality of life: fine parks, the river and the personal contribution which individuals make to recycling or reducing their 'carbon footprint'.
What is becoming clearer to me as a minister is that 'green' industries can play a major role in helping our economy to revive.
In the last few weeks I have visited a car plant producing Europe's first fully hybrid car; helped a major electric car project to get off the ground; and talked to manufacturers who want to make the UK their base for manufacturing wind turbines.
And locally there are lots of enterprising small companies trying to turn environmental ideas into good businesses. In my advice surgery in the last few weeks several have come to me for advice and support.
One is to use the weir at Teddington Lock to generate electric power. The project could generate enough electricity for almost 1,000 homes and, subject to approval from the Environment Agency, could get going quite quickly. With so called 'feed-in tariffs' lots of small projects, including solar power units, can make money selling to the grid.
Another proposal came from a local businessman, who is planning to harness tidal power around Britain's coasts in practical, small projects which do not require waiting for something big like the Severn barrage.
There are already good schemes up and running. A firm in Teddington is the world leader in producing a key part of wind turbines, exporting most of its production to China. There is a tiny oil refinery in Twickenham recycling waste oil from, say, fish and chip shops – which would otherwise go down the drain.
As a country we can do well by doing good: creating jobs and successful business by respecting the environment and saving scarce resources.