Sunday, November 19, 2017

Public backs post-Brexit investment in countryside

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

Windmill in Suffolk, England, with crops in the foreground

More than eight out of 10 people think the government should continue to spend money on preserving and managing the countryside.

Some 84% of respondents to the survey said they supported the continued public funding of the rural environment, with 61% saying the current spend of £3bn per year should be maintained or increased rather than reduced.

Just over a quarter (27%) said the landscape was the feature they most enjoyed when visiting the countryside. Just under half (44%) half knew that farmers and landowners are responsible for managing it.

Priorities

Of the people surveyed, 42% thought food production should be one of the top priorities for government investment in the countryside with flood management, enhancing wildlife and planting trees coming close behind.

Polling more than 1500 people, the research was commissioned by the Country Land and Business Association to highlight the level of public support which exists for continued investment in the countryside post-Brexit.

The CLA is currently running a campaign called The Countryside Matters. It aims to unite people who love the countryside and believe investing in it should remain a national priority for the government after the UK leaves the EU.

Over the summer, the campaign has been taken to the Suffolk Show, Royal Norfolk Show and Lincolnshire Show. The results of the survey were unveiled at last month’s BBC Countryfile Live event at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.

Benefits 

CLA eastern regional director Ben Underwood said: “Managing the landscape, producing quality food and planting trees bring benefits to every person who lives in, works in, or enjoys visiting our countryside – but these benefits require investment.

“Our survey has shown just how important investing in the countryside is so we can continue to eat nutritious and wholesome food, breathe clean air and enjoy a rich diversity of wildlife. It is reassuring to see so many people give a clear endorsement that the countryside matters.”

The CLA recently set out its vision for the introduction of a post-Brexit Land Management Contract as a new way to ensure public money is used more cost-effectively to reward land managers for implementing a wide range of public benefits, including environmental measures.

Mr Underwood said: “We will be promoting the contract to the government over the coming months to help develop a new food, farming and environmental policy. Now is the time to take action.”

www.thecountrysidematters.org

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