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<a href="mailto:SIMON_ODELL@hertscc.gov.uk">

     "Rural England - A nation committed to a living countryside"
     DOE/MAFF White Paper 17 Oct 1995
     I have extracted the main highlighted government intentions quoted in 
     the document published yesterday and have attached these (gratis!) for 
     your interest (text file)
     Hertfordshire's Countryside Forum will debate the paper on 30 October, 
     and we will no doubt take a report to the County Council's
     committee(s) this autumn.  Any observations welcome!
_Highlights of the Rural Issues White Paper listed, using Hertfordshire Countryside
                                          Strategy main headings_

"Government departments or agencies will":

                                               Living & Working

make it possible to apply for public entertainment, cinema and theatre licences for small premises (e.g. village halls) in a single annual application;

discuss with the Churches ways of working more closely with them in the countryside;

introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity to provide a framework for a formal consultative arrangement between local authorities and town and parish councils;

be seeking a detailed account of how [county and district council] promises to improve consultation with and delegation to parish councils have been kept, and will seek to encourage further devolution wherever possible;

investigate enabling those parish councils which wish to do so to take on modest additional responsibilities for crime prevention and community transport (to be funded from parish precept);*

consider abolishing the audit requirement for the smallest parishes; *

review current policy on setting up new parishes and, in particular, the criteria in DOE Circular 121/77;

via The Rural Development Commission, Countryside Commission and English Nature consider whether to produce further guidance on the production of Rural Strategies;

undertake research to provide better information on the factors which give rise to higher costs in both sparsely and densely populated areas, and will discuss with Local Authority Associations whether it is desirable and feasible to modify the Standard Spending Assessment in the light of new findings;

(with the aim of providing resources to enable councils to undertake partnership arrangements* to e.g. stimulate rural employment, enhance the environment, or improve services) introduce a special scheme to allow councils to retain 90% of proceeds of sales of smallholdings;

shortly publish a guide for local planning authorities to promote good practice in planning for rural diversification;

shortly issue a consultation paper on how a new "rural business use" class of development might work;

issue a Circular before the end of 1995 to help ensure planning appeals, including those for small rural developments, are dealt with quickly;

issue a draft revision of PPG7 for public consultation, which will allow greater discrimination in favour of reusing rural buildings for business rather than residences;

aim to see every rural area served by its own Business Link by the end of 1995.  Rural businesses are expected to benefit from #125M real growth in support;

further encourage self-employment in rural areas and is evaluating possible new arrangements to encourage business start-ups;

continue to seek improvements in EC agricultural policy;

review support to training organisations, such as ATB;

encourage those who provide services in rural areas to take account of the particular needs of their customers, by launching a Rural Charter Initiative within the Citizen's Charter;

encourage relevant authorities to develop specific rural housing policies;

expect from 1996-7 that the Housing Corporation introduce a "rural village enhancement factor" to its grants to housing associations and other providers;

support the Rural Development Commission's new scheme to fund Rural Housing Enablers;

investigate enabling Parish Councils to take on additional functions as follows*: conduction of surveys of transport needs of the community; provision of support for community minibuses; contracting with taxi firms to provide for the most needy; organising car-sharing; providing information on local transport;

make the Rural Transport Development Fund more flexible and give priority to it in future resource allocations;

encourage the flexible delivery of health care, and support to community hospitals;

soon be issuing new guidance on Community Care Plans, which will include the importance of addressing the particular needs of rural areas;

introduce, at a suitable legislative opportunity, a new rate relief scheme targeted specifically on general stores and post offices in villages, and in the meantime review the way the existing hardship relief scheme works;

encourage closer working between the Rural Development Commission, Rural Community Councils and Village retail Service Association;

continue to automate elements of benefits payments;

enable parish councils to contribute towards neighbourhood special constables and support crime prevention, e.g. by extending powers currently available to county and district councils*;

                                                 Sustaining & Enhancing

continue to fund the Rural Action scheme for a further 3 years;

(A continuing role for the Countryside Commission is confirmed, but the Government expects it and English Nature and the Rural Development Commission to undertake more joint working.);

repeat the Countryside Survey in 2000AD;

encourage improved co-ordination at national and local levels so that progress towards the targets for key species and habitats, given in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, can be monitored;

aim to introduce regulations to protect hedgerows in the first half of 1996;

support the development and promotion of English Nature and Countryside Commision's character map of the English countryside;

develop national good practice for urban greening as a way of relieving pressure on the countryside;

not introduce further classes of statutory designations;

revise PPG7 to advise local authorities against applying local countryside designations in favour of identifying distinctive local landscape characteristics;

give high priority to providing the extra funds necessary to enable an improved Countryside Stewardship scheme to continue to grow as the Government's main incentive scheme for the wider countryside outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas;

establish a steering group to keep under review the integration and focus of environmental land management schemes, and create a national consultation forum to inform its thinking;

in 1996, commission a management guide to identify and publicise best practice in managing commonland;

work with those who use and manage commonland to identify practical solutions to the worst registration and management problems;

keep the effectiveness of Codes of Good Agricultural Practice, and CAP premium schemes under review, and look for ways of attaching environmental conditions to CAP payments;

continue to support the principle of incentive schemes with specific environmental objectives being funded from savings in production-oriented support;

press for closer integration of environmental and agricultural policymaking within the Commission;

work in close co-operation with local authorities, landowners, voluntary organisations and others to encourage treeplanting leading towards a doubling of woodland in England over the next half-century;

seek to find new ways of using forestry techniques in the service of environmental regeneration, e.g. with the help of the National Urban Forestry Unit, English Partnerships, the new Regional Offices;

through the Forestry Commission, undertake a new programme to promote good woodland management;

develop an Action Plan concerning the use of pesticides;

promote the preparation of village design statements and countryside design summaries;

clarify the weight to be attached to the agricultural importance of grade 3a land, making clear that a more flexible approach may be adopted in areas where, for example, there is little land in lower grades;

encourage and guide village traffic calming;

commission research to lead to a best practice guide on lighting for rural roads;

                                            Access & Recreation

encourage parish councils to play a more active role in the management of footpaths within their area;

continue to support angling through the Sports Council, and fisheries management via the Environment Agency;

encourage all those involved in managing tourism in the countryside to use the good practice guide for sustainable rural tourism, shortly to be published, and to work in partnerships locally to develop strategies;

review ways of protecting access to Forestry Commission woodlands in the event of their sale to the private sector;

commission research into the effectiveness of PPG17 and examine the implications for the countryside of noisy and obtrusive activities;

test a new approach to agency arrangements for rights of way management involving consortia of parish councils;

consider whether there are ways of making the system for changing rights of way simpler and more flexible;

discuss with local authority associations and others to see whether general legislation to protect byways by banning motorised vehicles from them except for access to property may be desirable;

invite the Countryside Commission and National Rivers Authority to explore ways of focussing resources earmarked for river restoration, landscape enhancement and access improvements onto river corridors in the countryside around cities;

develop a national cycling strategy and consider targets to increase the use of bicycles;

                                             Awareness & Understanding

do more to make existing and potential organic farmers aware of recent changes to the CAP benefitting them;

ask the Countryside Commission to review ways of increasing public awareness of the responsibilities we all have, so that we can better foster understanding between urban and rural England.