Welcome for Defra chief’s statement

The Countryside Alliance has welcomed Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson’s first Rural Statement since taking office, noting it is “encouraging that the Secretary of State’s first act in his new role is to recognise the needs of rural communities.”

The Rural Statement focuses on Economic Growth, Rural Engagement and Quality of Life and accepts that the countryside faces unique challenges.

Mr Paterson said that Defra wants “to engage directly with rural communities so that they can see that Government is on their side” and, crucially, “wants rural people to have fair access to public services and to be actively engaged in shaping the places in which they live.”

Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner said: “Our campaigns focus firmly on ensuring that not only do rural people have access to the same services as their urban counterparts, but that they can be involved in shaping their own communities and future. It is therefore very encouraging that the Secretary of State’s first act in his new role is to recognise the needs of rural communities and to pledge to support them in their lives and in their work.”