AS the Halifax reports the biggest ever monthly rise in UK house prices - which have now gone up 17% this year - the Countryside Agency is expressing its concern over the price surge on rural communities.
The Government funded agency has just published its annual state of the countryside report and, says agency chairman Ewen Cameron, "What gives me most concern is the cost of housing."
The report, which contains masses of facts and figures about country life, comes up with the conclusion - already well known to Dales folk - that rural house prices are higher than in most urban areas and that there is a distinct shortage of affordable or rentable homes in country areas
However, one figure is particularly shocking: some 57% of country folk would have to commit half their incomes to pay for a mortgage - compared to only 33% in towns.
Says Ewen Cameron: "The countryside could become the preserve of the wealthy, threatening the whole nature of rural communities and viability of services."
More details from the survey are available on the agency website: www.countryside.gov.uk