Darren Hill mail at
Sat Nov 27 13:38:51 GMT 2010

The Carnegie UK Trust says the CAP should become the Common Rural
Development Policy, providing investment in countryside communities.This
would mean moving more support to rural development and making more use
of the LEADER approach to equip rural areas with development tools for
the future.

The researchers noted that the aim of the current Common Agricultural
Policy is to provide farmers with a reasonable standard of living,
consumers with quality food at fair prices and to preserve rural
heritage. They also noted that there has been considerable criticism of
CAP in its present form.

The report, published to coincide with the EU Rural Cooperation Fair in
Edinburgh in September, says a comprehensive and well financed policy of
supporting rural enterprises and community initiatives alongside farming
interests will help address the continuing challenge of low farm incomes
and continuing need for more people to start new businesses in rural areas.

The Carnegie UK Trust report says further reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy should acknowledge an increasingly holistic and
place-based approach that offers all rural enterprises the opportunity
to flourish and diversify.

Carnegie Chief Executive, Martyn Evans, urged the government to
recognise the importance of rural areas as potential drivers for
economic recovery.

“Rural communities have a growing role in the delivery of renewable
energy and food and water security for our nations, and Rural
Development Programmes including LEADER investment have great potential
in supporting innovation and building capacity to deliver these goals.

“LEADER cannot be the same everywhere – it has to be about place and
what is right for communities,” he stated.

The research found that members of Local Action Groups build-up a deep
understanding of local economic and social circumstances over a period
of time and continuity between programmes ensures this capacity is not lost.

The report also states that there are great benefits when LEADER
development plans are synchronised with domestic regeneration
initiatives and community strategies, especially when delivered by
independent and locally governed organisations.

Reflecting on the2007-13 period, the report claims that excessive
control and bureaucracy has seriously hampered timely and effective
delivery of LEADER: something which has been recognised within the EU
and must be urgently addressed.

Martyn Evans highlighted the potential benefits of aligning EU and
domestic funding, particularly with a public spending squeeze imminent.

“This is a funding system that has already proven its worth.Members of
Local Action Groups and organisations that have been associated with
LEADER build up a deep understanding of local economic and social

“What we need now is to see LEADER becoming fully integrated into a
single Common Rural Policy that invests in communities with big
ideas.With severe cuts to public spending nearly upon us, it is an
imperative that EU and domestic funding for rural areas are aligned.” He
concluded: “Ultimately, just as our report says networking is at the
heart of local rural delivery, so the rural policy of the EU, UK and
Ireland needs to be completely connected.”

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