Written evidence submitted by Rural Development
Agencies Rural Affairs Network
1. Firstly on behalf of the Rural Affairs
Network for Regional Development Agencies can I thank you for
giving us the opportunity to respond to your inquiry into England's
upland communities"High Ground, high potential".
2. Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)
have made strategic investments in sectors of national importance
which are either key to the economic growth and development of
the region or are of recognised area priority. RDAs have always
been supportive of integrated strategies that bring benefits to
those working, living and learning in areas of need like the uplands.
However we would want to see that where possible local agendas
are taken into consideration as due to the restructuring of government
and regions there will not be the medium through which a national
integrated strategy could be delivered. Therefore it is not the
concept of integration that is the challenge here, but that of
3. Please note that this response has included
information from those RDAs whose geography includes upland areas.
4. We would be happy to give further examples
if requested of how RDAs like emda, the North West and West Midlands
have worked hard to engage with the uplands and to remove some
of the barriers mentioned in the CRC report.
5. Strengthening leadership and momentum:
Crisis and need creates leadership and momentum and the 2001 Foot
and Mouth outbreak showed that there was indeed latent strength
in leadership and momentum within upland communities and that
this could be brought together to form effective partnerships
that work together for common interests. However outside of normal
trade associations, it took a crisis to make this happen and there
is little evidence that that leadership or momentum remains in
place. A key role of organisations such as GO and the RDA's have
been to provide the means through which partnerships can continue
to work towards common interests. The prospect of significant
funding for a wide range of activity that impacted positively
on upland communities was a major factor in holding the focus
of partnerships. Going forward therefore there needs to be an
equally strong basis for partnerships to work together and for
leaders to emerge.
6. emda have seen high numbers of applications
from dairy farmers looking for funding through RDPE livestock
monies. Some upland farms have also been supported through emda's
(single programme funded) Live and Work Rural programme in the
Peak District which has been designed to support businesses that
use the high quality environment as an economic driver. Many of
these projects have addressed climate change and business sustainability.
Through emda's RDPE skills programme a call for activity for projects
specifically within the Upland area was made, and has resulted
in emda supporting projects in sheep shearing, animal health and
welfare as well as others. Recent statistics show that 230 businesses
like Derbyshire farmers have already been able to participate
7. Through delivery of RDPE in England empowering
communities in the uplands has taken place in a number of areas
and in particular the North East where One North East has been
supportive of young people from farming backgrounds to start their
own businesses within their communities. Great community empowerment
is on the whole a positive step within Upland Communities. The
Northwest has some great examples of communities working to improve
their socio-economic and environmental circumstances. The Upper
Eden is currently being held up as a pilot/exemplar for the Big
Society agenda. http://www.uecp.org.uk/.
8. The cross Regional Development Agencies
Rural Affairs Network recently commissioned a paper into the Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013, whilst this is yet to be
finalised this inquiry has given us the opportunity to highlight
the key headlines to emerge from this research and hopefully promote
a new approach to funding (a better targeted CAP), the RDA recommendations
are that CAP needs to be:
8.1 Market ledCAP should support market
8.2 Knowledge ledCAP should promote R&D
and skills led change to increase productivity.
8.3 Economic ContributionCAP should help
to develop by supporting competitiveness and employment growth,
exports and global markets.
8.4 Green EconomyCAP should support environmental
markets in renewable materials and energy by improving resource
8.5 Risk ManagementCAP should promote
effective risk management by promoting use of risk management
9. Developing markets for carbon and water:
This is a fundamental part of balancing future CAP input to rural
areas and the ability for rural areas to capture the inherent
value of the upland landscape. A key issue here is that it should
not be assumed that the market for carbon and water should be
driven by public sector investment such as CAP. CAP should be
used to frame up the ability of rural business to develop sustainable
10. To reflect the contribution of upland
communities to public benefits, Defra should ensure that the menu
of measures under axes 3 and 4 should be broadened to enhance
investment in and support for social sustainability of communities
in upland areas.
11. Delivery bodies with less Favoured Areas
within their jurisdiction should review the extent to which RDPE
funding is sufficiently accessible to upland farms and rural businesses
[especially those relating to enterprise investment and rural
11.1 Securing the future for hill farmers some
RDAs believe that current funding mechanisms may not unlock the
potential of the uplands and as part of the CAP reform in 2013
and 2020, Defra and its agencies [and the EU] should develop a
new approach to rewarding farmers for managing national assets
in harmony with developing businesses and market enterprises.
In an innovative move to help sustain the future of farming, Upper
Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS) has announced that
it has been offered £170,000 from LandSkills North East to
fund its Farmers of the Future trainee scheme. Initially six to
eight trainees will learn the diverse skills needed for upland
farming in an effort to encourage more young people into agriculture.
The scheme has already attracted considerable interest among local
farmers and the selection of 12 host farms is now underway. The
project was funded by the Rural Development Programme for England
(RDPE) through the LandSkills North East programme.
12. RDPE funding should be used to develop
a series of commercial demonstration farms to promote good practice
across a range of disciplines including implementation of agri-environment
schemes, soil and livestock management, alternative forage crops,
stocking rates and grazing management regimes.
13. Encouraging enterprise in new green
growth areas where existing upland businesses, upland communities
more broadly and "outside" business interests can work
together. It is a key element of delivering true "Big Society"
where broader benefits are delivered on a commercial platform
that allows return on investment to be a key component of productive
partnership working. Over a five year period more than £206,000,000
has been invested to deliver enterprise in green growth areas
to deliver sustainable consumption and production agenda, and
in 2008 more than £70,000 was offered to farms and forestry
businesses in the North East of England in the opening phase of
a project to build biomass supply chains. It should not be assumed
that this should be driven by public sector investment.
14. Improving broadband and mobile telephone
communications, RDPE funding has enabled rural areas in many areas
and an example of this in the uplands Teesdale has access to reliable,
high speed broadband to increase business competitiveness. The
Digital Dale project,. One North East's RDPE has approved £300,000
for the project with work being carried out by Networks By Wireless,.
RDAs recognise the importance of broadband as the "fourth
utility" alongside water, electricity and gas. However, due
to low population and geographical remoteness in rural areas public
sector intervention is essential.
15. Planning to enable sustainable upland
communities: Effective planning that allows community led identification
of priorities and subsequent local-agreement on sustainable solutions
is required if our upland communities are to become more than
just a pastiche of rural lifea potential scenario that
could be generated without a clear understanding of what opportunities
are offered by a vibrant rural community. Planning requires local
input and an understanding of a living landscape. Largely protected
as AONB or National Park, our upland landscapes are afforded a
degree of positive sustainable input however the balance of power
in that decision making process needs to shift to those impacted
directly by policyupland communities.
16. To reiterate that this response has
included information from those RDAs whose geography includes
upland areas. RDAs have over the past 10 years given much support
to the uplands and if more information is required, please do
not hesitate to get in contact.