The Countryside Alliance has launched a Brexit policy document setting out the issues that need to be addressed in order to sustain a living and working countryside outside of the EU.
The Countryside Alliance did not campaign during the EU referendum but the decision to leave the EU will have an impact on the countryside and the people who live and work there, which is why we have produced this policy document.
The new Government that will form after the General Election on 8 June 2017 will have to address many important rural issues; such as tackling rural crime, increasing the provision of affordable rural housing and ensuring universal access to high speed broadband and mobile phone signal. However, it is clear that Brexit will be front and centre of the work of the next Parliament.
Decisions that are made in relation to trade, regulations, agricultural and environmental policies, will shape the future of our countryside for many years to come. At the heart of these decisions are defining questions about the kind of landscapes we want to create, the food we want to eat, and the communities we want to develop.
A new relationship with Europe brings opportunities. We have the chance to consider which EU policies are working and which ones are not, and develop an agricultural policy that is more appropriate for farming in this country. However, there are challenges and Brexit will only be a success if the interests of rural communities are central to the decision making.
This is not simply self-interest. The countryside is vital for our food and farming industry, provides public goods and recreation for millions of people, and its landscapes are an important part of our cultural heritage and home to an astonishing range of wildlife and habitats. A successful living and working countryside is important for us all.
It is essential that the people who have the task of managing our countryside are given a voice, and listened to, as these important decisions are made. The Countryside Alliance will help to ensure this happens.