Memorandum submitted by the Countryside
The Countryside Agency is the leading source
of expertise on rural affairs. We set out to influence the work
and action of others, basing our advice on the facts and demonstrating
what works on the ground.
Our aims are:
to conserve and enhance the countryside;
promote social equity and economic
opportunity for the people who live there; and
help everyone, wherever they live,
to enjoy this natural asset.
These are ambitious aims and we have an ambitious
programme of work to match. Our budget of £70 million is
relatively small and we cannot achieve our ambitions by our actions
We have a special role to play with government.
We are their advisers on all countryside issues and, just as importantly,
we also monitor and report on their progress in delivering their
If we are going to make a real difference to
the countryside we must persuade others to do things differently.
So when government decides to introduce a new programme on education,
Sure Start, we persuaded government to change their approach to
ensure rural children got their chance to participate.
We are working with government to make sure
the rural dimension is built into every policy development. For
example, we have developed a checklist which has been introduced
into every central government department to make sure their policies
will not disadvantage the countryside.
But people whose decisions affect the countryside
must have the facts to provide a solid foundation for their actions.
We are building up data and information to map the social, economic
and environmental geography of England. Our State of the countryside
report and rural services survey give the facts in a way which
allow policymakers and others to target their actions to best
We can also influence others by advising on
innovative policy solutions and showing what works on the ground.
In a world where there are few clear cut options, the Agency can
act as a pathfinder in working out how policymakers can achieve
To complement our influencing role we are also
about practical action. We deliver seven large scale programmes
on work on the ground which demonstrate how others can take forward
new ways of working or where the Agency has special responsibility.
These practical programmes play an essential role in helping shape
our policy advice.
How do we do it?
The Agency is a national organisation delivering
eight programmes of work set out in our new strategy Towards
the quality of rural life;
million over three years showing how the countryside can reach
its full economic potential;
vital villages£48 million
over three years spent on local community projects and services;
market towns£12.5 million
over three years for market town regeneration;
wider welcome£12.5 million
over three years for access, national trails and rights of way;
countryside on your doorstep£12
million over three years bringing the countryside to towns and
million over three years for AONBs and creating two new national
local heritage initiative£12
million over three years reintroducing communities to their local