The department for environment, food and rural affairs recently published their spurious rural statement 2012.
The Statement is based around three key priorities:
• Economic Growth – we want rural businesses to make a sustainable contribution to national growth;
• Rural Engagement – we want to engage directly with rural communities so that they can see that Government is on their side; and
• Quality of Life – we want rural people to have fair access to public services and to be actively engaged in shaping the places in which they live;However, the statement gives no indication of how planning rules or permitted development rights might be liberalised for rural businesses or agricultural development.
The director of policy and campaigns at countryside campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Neil Sinden, said that environmental issues had been sidelined in the statement. "Only by putting the environment at the centre of measures to achieve social and economic progress will the government help to support a sustainable future for rural areas," he warned.
Sinden added: "Some of the recent misinformed attacks on the planning system from the Treasury and elsewhere show that the government has some way to go in understanding that a healthy economy and environment go hand in hand."
The RSPB responded by stating, "We are disappointed to see little mention of the vital role that the natural environment and agri-environment schemes have to play.
“Rural businesses are uniquely connected with, and often dependant on, the environmental quality of their surroundings, and agri-environment schemes are the most important tool Mr Paterson has to maintain it.
“There are many farmers up and down the country - including many in Cumbria where the Minister is launching this report - who have seen first hand how agri-environment schemes like Higher Level Stewardship - can turn around the fortunes not only of local farmland wildlife but also of their businesses.
“What we need to see is a strong commitment from Mr Paterson that agri-environment will remain the beating heart of England’s next Rural Development Programme, and that he will fight to defend environmental spending in Brussels.”
The country land and business association supported the Statement's view that the development of competitive agriculture must receive backing across the UK and European Union but that the Statement presented three challenges for the rural economy.
Mr Cotterell (CLA President) said: "While it is important to reduce the amount of red tape faced by rural businesses, the Rural Statement makes no mention of the recommendations made by the Farming Regulation Task Force on this issue.
The worry is that recommendations will be picked and chosen to suit Defra, and unnecessary burdens for farmers and landowners will not be lifted.
"We would also like to see housing in rural areas recognised as helping to boost economic growth. This would bring Defra in line with the rest of government, particularly when it comes to finding a use for redundant farm buildings."
He added: "The Statement does not announce any new measures on the lack of rural broadband access and mobile connectivity which must be prioritised as it is a major block for rural economic growth."
So, despite launching yet another statement which no doubt includes many free business lunches up and down the UK and lending a closed ear to those often isolated and ignored rural businessmen and women, once again there is no meat on the bone.
This seems to be pretty typical of the Tories response to all matters outside of the Westminster hub. This is not a coalition policy this is Tory pacifying through and through.
Surely after the plans to sell off National Parks, forest, school playing fields and the increasing incapacity to get to grips with Rural Matters per se, Cameron and his team GB, despite appointing Owen Paterson as head of DEFRA, have thrown yet another nosebag of bullshit to pacify its largest areas of vote winning public.
So just how low would the new chairman of the Conservative party sink to retain another term?
The Tory's have no friends in the North
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