YORKSHIRE landowners and rural business owners have launched their own manifesto for the general election campaign demanding more inward investment into the countryside and a slashing of Government red tape which hinders rural development.
The Country Landowners and Business Association (CLA) is urging members of the public to press their parliamentary candidates to reveal their views on a wide variety of rural issues - issues which are unlikely to get much coverage in the national media.
Yorkshire's countryside and national parks can only be sustained if there is a thriving and viable rural economy, says the manifesto calling on candidates to back policies it wants the next Government to tackle. They include the need for more inward investment in rural areas to promote jobs, housing, transport and services.
"There are over 30,000 businesses in Yorkshire's rural areas currently contributing £6 billion to the region's economy," said the CLA's regional director Dorothy Fairburn.
"This includes farmers and landowners who manage the countryside not only for the environmental benefits which that provides but also to produce top quality food.
"The election campaign is an important time for us to get the case for the countryside across while politicians are at their most receptive. Our manifesto has been published to help ensure they remember our package of forward-looking proposals after the election."
CLA demands include:
- Flexible planning policies for affordable housing to be extended to villages, and previously developed land no longer needed for agriculture freed for job-creating development.
- More funds from the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy for the pioneering new environmental stewardship schemes introduced this year.
- A more balanced approach to public access to the countryside: local impact rather than land type should be considered and protection for "green lanes" from vehicle damage included.
- Tax disadvantages for rural diversification should be removed, greater use of bio-fuels encouraged and recognition given to the economic and environmental benefits of country sports.