Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties face a chal­leng­ing year ahead

Crime and broad­band speeds will add to con­cerns about liveli­hoods

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

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.”

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