Rural businesses in the North West and Southern England will now have a hotline direct to government as three new Rural and Farming Networks are announced by Environment Minister, Richard Benyon.
Fourteen Rural and Farming Networks were set up at the start of the year to identify and feed back local issues and concerns straight to the heart of Government, in order to make policies more rural-friendly.
The three new Rural and Farming Networks announced today are:
- The Wessex Rural and Farming Network;
- Cumbria & North Lancashire Farming, Food & Rural Group; and
- Cheshire, South and West Lancashire, Merseyside & Manchester Land Use Farming & Rural Group.
Environment Minister, Richard Benyon said;
“We are giving rural communities a new voice so that their interests will not be neglected by Government as they have been in the past.
“Great business ideas should never be held back by the challenges of a rural location. These Rural and Farming Networks are making us aware of the problems that local businesses face so that we can tackle them and provide the right opportunities for businesses to grow.”
Rural and Farming Networks bring together people from rural communities, rural businesses and the food and farming industries. They make a direct link between rural areas and the Government, creating new opportunities to develop better and more targeted policy.
Each group will also be a vital point of contact in the event of local emergencies - such as flooding - giving advice and information so that the right kind of assistance can be provided to keep businesses running.
The new networks sit alongside a £165 million package of measures to support rural communities announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review which aims to maximise the economic potential of rural communities and businesses.
The Rural Economy Growth Review included:
- £100 million to grow rural businesses through the Rural Development Programme for England;
- Grants totalling £20 million to extend superfast broadband to the remotest areas;
- New Rural Growth Networks to help rural areas overcome barriers to growth such as poor infrastructure, scarcity of business premises and lack of business networks;
- Action to cut red tape on use of farm buildings to address the shortage of rural business premises;
- £25 million to promote rural tourism and supporting its businesses; and
- Loans totalling £20 million for community-owned renewable energy schemes.
The Rural and Farming Network will meet for the first time in early 2012 and then on individual policy areas or issues of importance to rural communities.
The Wessex Rural and Farming Network represents the rural interests of Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Surrey, West Berkshire, West Sussex and Wiltshire.
The following Rural and Farming Networks were announced in January 2012:
Farming Food and Rural Network East;
Rural Network East Midlands;
Lincolnshire Forum for Agriculture and Horticulture;
Derbyshire Economic Partnership Rural Forum;
Food, Farming and Rural Affairs Tees Valley;
Farming and Rural Issues Group (covering much of the South East);
Essex Rural Partnership;
The Kent Rural Network;
Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership;
South West Rural and Farming Network;
Worcestershire Rural Hub (covering Worcestershire and close links with Warwickshire);
The Rural Hubs Partnership (covering Herefordshire, Shropshire and Staffs);
Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network; and
The North Eastern Farming and Rural Advisory Network.