Unlock the countryside's potential - CLA
The next Government will need to deliver a proactive approach to the countryside and recognise the importance of rural-based businesses to the wider economy – that’s the message from the CLA, which has launched its manifesto for the general election.
Unlock the Countryside’s Potential was unveiled today (July 18) by CLA President Henry Robinson at a special debate on the first day of the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
Mr Robinson told delegates that CLA members own or manage around half the rural land in England and Wales and run over 250 types of business. That, he said, puts the Association in a unique position to advise the next government on how it might best unlock the social, economic and environmental benefits that rural areas can offer society as a whole.
“Importantly, we are the only organisation that can help the next government achieve the long term security food, water, housing and energy issues that will be at the top of every party’s agenda.
“We are publishing our manifesto ahead of the General Election campaign because it sets out key recommendations that will enable candidates to achieve a better understanding of the countryside and enable those elected to effect real change.” he said.
In its manifesto, the Association calls on the next government to consider 76 recommendations in the areas of Property and Ownership; Landscape and Farming; Environment and Natural Resources; Business and Technology.
CLA Midlands regional director Caroline Bedell added; “This should be a ‘must read’ for all candidates, both urban and rural, because it will help them ensure that the countryside is not disadvantaged by predominantly urban-based legislation and that it will remain a dynamic, thriving place for those who come to visit and for those who live and to work there. It’s a vision that will help rural areas prosper over the lifetime of the next government.
“We have launched a manifesto now because our policies are long-term and candidates putting themselves forward for next year’s election need to be thinking ahead.
“In the Midlands we will be making sure all candidates are aware of our manifesto, and our advisers will be happy to brief all politicians on the often-complex issues specific to rural areas.”
The English countryside contributes £210 billion to the national economy each year, employing 3.13 million in a quarter of the country's businesses.
No wonder today's entrepreneurs are more likely to start a new business in a rural area than a town or a city.
In our manifesto for 2015, we, the CLA, call on the next Government to prioritise policies that will support long term economic growth and job creation throughout our rural communities.
Firstly, the next Government must commit to building enough homes and business premises by finishing the job of planning reform and accelerating housing development, whilst respecting the unique character and needs of our countryside.
After five years of radical reform, there is much that is good about national and local planning policy. But still too many beneficial developments are being frustrated. We need more leadership from Government, more forward thinking from Local Authorities and overall a less restrictive approach to sustainable development.
Farming businesses are essential to food production. They underpin a thriving rural economy and it is farmers that are working tirelessly to manage our treasured countryside.
By 2050, the planet will have to feed nine billion people.
The next Government must ensure the rural economy can meet the farming needs of tomorrow, today by embracing new technologies, aided by the UK’s world-class agricultural biotechnology sector.
Sufficient supplies of water – a tangible asset for farming businesses - are crucial to food production and food security.
But as summers get hotter and drier and rainfall varies, we need to decide how we will manage water for future generations, with sufficient flexibility.
Our countryside, from its wildlife to its waterways, requires constant management. We need to think differently about how we invest in this management and how we support our farmers and landowners to do this.
The rollout of fast, reliable broadband and mobile connection to remote communities is vital for rural business.
The next Government has to be more ambitious and more demanding. No home or business should be cut off from broadband connection 15 years in to the twenty first century.
The road ahead is challenging. But the CLA, with its manifesto for 2015, can help guide the next Government to ensuring a thriving rural economy, fit for the future.