Landscape-2-800wThe Countryside Alliance welcomes Defra’s commitment to “rural proof” its policies, in its response to Lord Cameron Review on Rural Proofing which has been published today (17th December).

Rural proofing involves government departments ensuring their policies take into account the specific issues faced by rural communities, that public services are accessible and appropriate for rural as well as urban areas, and that the potential of the rural economy is maximised.

Defra said it would bring together evidence and statistics from government departments and the Office of National Statistics to ensure policies deliver for families and businesses based in the countryside.

Defra says: “An online evidence hub, announced by the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, will help the almost ten million people who live in the English countryside by providing crucial insight, such as the fact that flexible, home-working is more prevalent in rural than in urban areas, and tends to involve higher skilled, higher wage roles. Along with making evidence more freely available, other measures to boost productivity and increase opportunities in rural areas in the response to the Lord Cameron Review today include:

  • a new ‘rural ambassador’ role operating across government departments
  • ministers representing rural issues on ‘task forces’ which operate across government on identified priority issues including housing and broadband
  • the development of improved guidance on ‘rural proofing’ and sharing research and evidence expertise to ensure rural needs are considered in the development of all policies
  • a Cabinet Office led oversight for rural proofing across government

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner commented: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes this response from Defra on Lord Cameron’s review on rural proofing. For far too long government policy making has failed to acknowledge the unique nature of rural communities. The problems in rural areas are often the same as urban areas but the solutions required are different and need to reflect the specific challenges of delivering services to the countryside. If these proposals ensure rural communities’ needs are taken into account in the decision making process then it is a welcome step forward.”

Last year Defra asked Lord Cameron of Dillington to undertake an independent review of rural proofing activity within Defra and across government departments. The government’s response to the Lord Cameron Review on Rural Proofing has been published today (17th December 2015). In England 9.3 million people live in rural areas.