Headlines: October 21st, 1998

More detail has emerged about the new ‘countryside agency’ due to start next April following the merger of the Countryside Commission and Rural Development Commission.The new merged agency will have 350 expert staff from the two existing organisations and a budget of around 50 million pounds – a five per cent increase on previously.

The new organisation’s remit is to produce a countryside that is vital and viable, with services for residents and visitors, plus jobs for local people. It’s job is also to enhance the environment, build better links between town and country dwellers and make access to the countryside something everyone can enjoy.

The draft prospectus for the new organisation also sets it the challenge of setting up a national centre of rural expertise, so that public policy takes into account the needs of those living and working in rural areas.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher said: “We aim to create a new, dynamic agency with a fresh mandate from Government.”

Consultation seminars will now be held in London and around the regions with key partners and organisations with an interest in the countryside. The draft prospectus is available on both existing commissions’ websites: http://www.countryside.gov.uk or http://www.argonet.co.uk/rdc or from Marketing & Information, Rural Development Commission, 141 Castle Street, Salisbury SP1 3TP