AS WE predicted on Monday (see News), the first shots in the rural planning war were fired yesterday - not surprisingly by the Country Land and Business Association.
The Government is about to announce a major relaxation of strict planning rules on rural building development to boost countryside businesses and the provision of affordable housing for local people.
Politicians are bracing themselves for an outcry of protest from several conservation groups but the CLA - which has recruited many more non-land businesses into its ranks in recent years - has come out strongly in favour of the changes.
Douglas Chalmers, CLA Regional Director North says: "We receive calls every day from members frustrated with the current planning system. People trying to make a success out of a rural business or simply trying to improve their quality of life are being hampered on all sides by a planning regime that appears to value the views of outsiders over those affected by the decisions.
"Any attempt to reduce the growing discontent in rural communities has to be welcomed.
"We know that planners themselves feel restricted by the current system and many will welcome this new opportunity to contribute to the benefit of their communities in a way that has hitherto been impossible, despite good intentions. In fact, we would argue that it is the local planner, in consultation with local business,