Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 2


  The Agency is working with the DTLR, DEFRA and ONS on a DTLR-led project to research better definitions of "rural". However, we are not satisfied with the progress being made towards defining an acceptable single definition.

  Ideally, the Agency would like to use a settlement-based definition of rural that distinguishes between settlements and their surrounding area, settlements of different sizes, which takes into account issues of remoteness, peripherality and other key attributes. This settlement-based approach will allow aggregation to the postcode sector, ward and local authority levels. We wish to give the project new impetus and have just reached agreement with DEFRA on the immediate adoption of Agency definitions for rural. ONS will do so with effect from April. Furthermore, we will be pursuing a similar agreement with DTLR.

  However, this agreement will not address the small number of known anomalies within the definition. The Agency is proposing that immediate work begins to establish agreement to rectify these and finally to work on a year long project to establish a more robust and transparent agreed definition of rural at different geographies.

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