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Rural Affairs Are Current Affairs, CLA Tells Candidates
Sidelining rural affairs would be a missed opportunity for candidates campaigning in a general election that follows so soon after major upheavals in the countryside says the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
CLA President Mark Hudson said, "For too long rural affairs has been seen as a secondary concern but now people and the media are demanding answers from politicians about the quality of food, about greener energy sources and how young families can afford to live and work in the area the grew up in. Any candidate in this election who ignores the need for positive policies for rural areas, ignores a significant concern of their constituency - whether it is urban or rural. How the land is cared for, whether rural businesses can invest in their communities and provide employment, and how our food and energy is produced affects the whole country."

The CLA is in the final stages of distributing its manifesto "Your politics can help the rural economy" to all parliamentary candidates. The manifesto sets out how candidates, if successful, can ensure a genuinely sustainable future for the countryside:

1. A positive infrastructure for rural business
The CLA's manifesto highlights the need for inward investment in and flexible planning policies for rural areas to promote jobs, housing, transport and services.

2. A rural policy for the British countryside
Rural policies and the agencies which deliver them must acknowledge that environmental and social sustainability both depend on economic sustainability - a point that is all too frequently not appreciated by politicians.

3. A balanced approach to open access
We need a sensible approach that allows access to be considered on a case-by-case basis, enabling a balance to be struck between public need, the effect on land management and the environment.

4. Tax change to boost diversification
The CLA is pressing candidates to support a tax system which recognises that many rural businesses conduct a mixture of activities (that are currently separated only by different tax bands) that would benefit enormously from a more coherent approach.

5. A reduction in climate change by producing renewable energy
A greater emphasis should be given other renewable sources, apart from wind power, including biofuels and biomass.

6. Recognition of the benefits of the sport of shooting
Wider recognition is needed of the contribution which shooting makes to the environment and the economy. This includes placing no further restrictions on game shooting and reviewing existing unjustifiable restrictions.

MPs from all parties have welcomed the launch of the CLA Manifesto:

Paddy Tipping MP, Labour, Sherwood, Member of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee:
"The CLA is firmly at the centre of public debate on the future of the countryside. They set the agenda on Single Farm Payment and they speak with authority on a range of land management issues from affordable housing to renewable energy."

Lembit Öpik MP, Liberal Democrat, Montgomeryshire:
"The CLA legal advisors have been instrumental in advising parliamentarians of all parties, on issues affecting the countryside in England and Wales. The CLA is a progressive and forward thinking organisation and the standard of information they provide is second to none."

James Paice MP, Conservative, South East Cambridgeshire, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food:
"I have always found the CLA a very useful source of advice and information."

5 April 2005
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