Opinion Former Article

BASC wins £1.6m contract to boost rural sports in South West England

The UK's largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is to lead a £1.6m project to boost the development of recreational countryside sporting activities in the South West of England and to help maximise the contribution they make to the economy and tourism in the region.

The three-year programme will lead to the creation of five full-time posts in the South West, four of which will be managed by BASC and one by project partner the Westcountry Rivers Trust. Jamie Stewart, BASC director for the South West, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for us to build up sporting enterprises and opportunities in the region and to help increase shooting and angling's contribution to the region's critically important tourism industry and the wider rural economy. "

The programme will be mainly financed from protected funds held by the Rural Development Programme for England [RDPE] and administered by the South West Regional Development Agency under the authority of Defra. The project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas.

The project aims to increase the number of people visiting the region to participate in rural sporting activities such as shooting, angling and other countryside activities and to develop a sustainable legacy of better rural sporting tourism opportunities. It will encourage landowners to develop sporting aspects of their businesses and to open up new economic avenues for existing tourist and specialist trade suppliers.

Jamie Stewart said: "Our focus will be on helping people to improve the services they already offer and to develop new shooting and angling opportunities to add to the region's rich culture of rural sports. We will be working closely with many regional partners to ensure that our members' existing shooting is protected. We want to help make the South West a leading destination for those who wish to participate in rural sports and to enjoy our glorious countryside."

For more information please call the BASC press office on 01244 573031.

Notes to editors:

RDPE
The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) runs from 2007 to 2013. It is the 2nd pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy and aims to support the creation of genuinely sustainable farming, forestry and food sectors, whilst also bringing wider benefits for the economy, the environment and rural communities. It provides the major financial vehicle for protecting and enhancing the environment and securing a range of public benefits for society. Defra is the Managing Authority.

The RPE has three priorities for rural development:
1. Improving competitiveness of the agriculture and forestry sectors
2. Improving the environment and the countryside
3. Improving quality of life in rural areas & encouraging diversification of economic activity

The aims, objectives and priorities for delivering RDPE in South West England were agreed for the socio-economic investments with regional partners and these are set out in the Regional Implementation Plan. On the basis of a thorough analysis of South West England's rural characteristics and economy, the Plan sets out eight themes:

i. Skills development
ii. Social enterprise
iii. Business support
iv. Supply chain and adding value
v. Resource management (soil, water, energy, waste)
vi. Sustainable rural tourism
vii. Biodiversity and landscape
viii. Community-led development

For more information on the RDPE and the schemes see www.sw-ruralgateway.info In this region, the South West RDA delivers priorities 1and 3 with a budget of £156.8 million over the seven years. The RDA is also responsible for ensuring that five per cent of the RDPE funding is spent on enabling community involvement in rural development. The RDPE priority for improving the environment and the countryside is delivered nationally by the Forestry Commission's Woodland Grant Scheme and Natural England's Environmental Stewardship Scheme. The delivery partners in the South West aim to ensure that investment in each of the three priorities will help support investment in the others.

Organisations involved in delivering RDPE

The South West RDA works for and promotes a modern, stronger and more resilient economy across South West England. Our work involves creating better jobs, successful businesses, more prosperous cities, towns and villages within an economy that uses less carbon and will still be thriving in 20, 50 and 100 years time. More information can be found at www.southwestrda.org.uk

Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. It conserves and enhances the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings. For more information see www.naturalengland.org.uk Environmental Stewardship (ES) was launched in 2005, builds on the very best practice already evident in British farming. During the period 2007-13 the national budget for ES will be £2.9 billion. The objectives of ES are to:

- Conserve wildlife (biodiversity)
- Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
- Protect the historic environment and natural resources
- Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
- Natural resource protection.

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants, tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. For further information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk

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