DEFRA pledges £680m to rural development

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published its Rural Statement, billed as ‘a contract to give rural communities the power to hold Government to account on rural growth.’
 
The long-awaited Statement sets out the Government’s ‘vision for rural England’, formalising its commitment to helping rural businesses and rural people. It focuses primarily on the potential of superfast broadband delivery, rural business grants and Rural Growth Networks to create jobs, business opportunities and economic growth, but also recognises the impact of community ownership to deliver services in remote areas. This is the first policy statement focusing on rural communities since 2004’s Rural Strategy.

Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society says ‘Government fails to mention the role of the country’s 400,000 hectares of ancient common land, which provide recreation and refreshment for the public and are rich havens for wildlife: they contribute to the beauty and variety of the landscapes which local people cherish and others come to visit for their beauty and wilderness.'