Rural communities face a challenging year ahead
Crime and broadband speeds will add to concerns about livelihoods
The CLA represents about 33,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses, including more than 450 in Buckinghamshire.
Mr Anstey said: “Buckinghamshire will continue to face a significant challenge in meeting the increasing demands for housing and planned infrastructure projects such as HS2 without sacrificing the local landscape and the livelihoods of farmers, landowners and rural businesses. Almost all major infrastructure projects result in years of worry and upheaval for families, together with uncertainty over outcomes that can ruin businesses.
“It is a subject on which the CLA will be focusing in detail in April this year, when we are going to hold a debate in Aylesbury on whether better infrastructure has to mean damage to the countryside.”
Mr Anstey warns that it is not just development pressures which will potentially threaten the countryside in the coming year:
He added: “The impact of climate change, together with increased development, means we still face a continued threat from waterlogging and flooding in many areas of this region. Farmers and landowners are already taking action, usually at their own cost, to reduce the risk of local flooding, from improving drainage to changing land management practices, but we must see a more responsible attitude from planning authorities and developers in relation to flooding and a new framework of River Catchment Boards to address local issues.
“Farmers are also facing a range of other pressures, including commodity price fluctuations; global influences on markets; disease threats to livestock and crops, and yield variations due to weather and soil conditions.”
Rural crime will continue to be a challenge for farmers and landowners across Buckinghamshire in the coming months.
Mr Anstey said: “A survey by the National Rural Crime Network in 2015 estimated that the cost of crime in rural areas in England and Wales could be in excess of £800million.
“The CLA will continue to work closely with Thames Valley Police to reduce the impact on farmers and rural businesses who are affected by fly-tipping, thefts of equipment and machinery, fly-grazing, poaching and other rural and wildlife crimes.”
Mr Anstey says continuing issues with broadband access will again be a real problem for many rural businesses in the county:
He added: “There are still many parts of Buckinghamshire where access to superfast broadband remains poor. It’s nearly impossible to let an office without good broadband and increasingly the same applies to houses, as more people work from home full or part-time. New government plans to introduce a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of 10Mbps by the end of this Parliament offer some good news for those affected by poor broadband, but we will be continuing our campaign to ensure this pledge becomes a reality.”