THE Government's much lauded promise to take rural concerns into account when making major policy decisions has been followed by "particularly disappointing" results, says the Country Landowners and Business Association.
The plan to "rural proof& all policy decisions was promised in the Rural White Paper, 2000, as a part of a commitment to be more aware of that fact that some policies, although effective in urban areas, might have no effect - or even a detrimental effect - in the countryside.
The Countryside Agency has published a report on the first year of &rural-proofing& which leaves a lot to be desired, says the CLA's North West Director, Douglas Chalmers.
&Although progress has been made, it does seem that most departments have done little more than reach a minimal baseline and are still failing to make rural considerations an integral part of policy making,& he says.
&It is particularly disappointing to see that the Agency's rural proofing checklist does not seem to be widely used. The countryside is comprised of 14 million people and half a million businesses and cannot be regarded as an insignificant constituency.
&A living, working countryside is vital to the underpinning of the UK's social and economic well being."
Anyone wanting to study the Countryside Agency report if full should log onto www.countryside.gov.uk/ruralproofing/report.htm