The CLA lobbies continuously at EU, national and regional level, and uses our members’ experiences and concerns to help change the law be it overturning bad regulations, improving legislation in the interests of our members or resisting introductions of laws that would have unintended consequences for landowners.
During the past year CLA advisers lobbied on a number of issues including the following.
Property and Ownership
CLA secures improvements to Localism Bill
The CLA’s intervention means that improvements have been made to the Bill to the benefit of members. For example, the proposals now include a better definition of “community asset” – meaning it must be seen to further the social well-being of the local community – and individuals will not be able to nominate assets to go on the council-led list which affords the owners some protection.
In 2012 we will continue to press government officials to ensure there is no reduction in the protection the CLA has already secured for landowners, and that the whole system causes the minimum of interference with your wishes to sell your land or property to others at a time of your choosing. We will continue to demand an effective right of appeal and full compensation for all losses as a result of listing assets.
Averting crisis in heritage
In 2011 CLA launched its report Averting Crisis in Heritage: CLA Report on Reforming a Crumbling System which calls for a comprehensive range of measures to create a better system to allow heritage to be used, valued and sympathetically changed. We are working constructively with English Heritage, Cadw and others to press for the changes needed to ensure members do not have to abandon repair projects because of costs and bureaucracy, and to give businesses and prospective buyers the confidence to invest in historic buildings.
The CLA vision for access
In 2012 the CLA will launch its policy paper on Access which will call on government to: simplify the administrative processes to improve the efficiency of the system; implement the deadline by which unused paths (lost ways) can be re-discovered (so that landowners no longer face claims out of the blue and authorities no longer spend scarce resources on unused paths); and enable commonsense changes to be made to the network to respond to changing needs and demands.
Mansion tax threat
Landscape and Farming
CLA lobbies to ensure landowners are not disadvantaged in the CAP Reform
The CLA’s key message is the concept of “Food and Environmental Security” – our philosophy that the CAP must help maintain both our capacity to produce food and meet society’s demands for a better protected environment. This means individual farmers need to be paid for both elements. We have been leading in this debate at home and in Europe successfully preserving the level of the CAP budget to meet these twin aims.
This approach has not always made us popular but our argument is prevailing in Brussels. The European Commission proposals are far from perfect but do recognise the huge benefits which farmers and land managers provide.
Nevertheless, threats remain. There is still the risk that entitlements will be limited to narrowly defined “active farmers” and that there will be caps on larger claims. If either come to pass it will be bad news for farming businesses on a number of fronts as this will:
Unfortunately, our government is showing signs of indecision which is why the CLA will be working hard in 2012 with the European Landowners’ Organization, our European partners, to ensure that the interests of our members are properly recognised and protected.
CLA helps reduce red tape on farming activities
The CLA – through written submissions to the Task Force and one-to-one meetings with its chairman – identified areas in members’ farming activities where red tape should be removed, such as calling for fewer inspections in abattoirs by implementing a risk-based approach which would lead to reduced costs for the livestock industry. This and other recommendations were successfully incorporated in to the Task Force’s report.
In 2012 the CLA will be lobbying government to ensure that the Task Force’s recommendations are implemented which will mean that members will be less burdened by government bureaucracy.
CLA wins funding for woodland owners
We were also successful in working with the Forestry Commission to persuade the Government to turn under-spent cash from Natural England's bio-energy crops scheme into funds to help bring under-managed woodland into production. The newly created Wood Fuel Implementation Plan should boost the forestry sector by providing funding which recognises that productive, well-managed woodland delivers optimum environmental benefits and gives woodland a sound economic foundation. In our view the support is the best and cheapest way of securing these benefits and the future of forestry.
Environment and Natural Resources
CLA’s case for renewable energy supported by government
Although we have won the bigger argument, we still need to work closely with government on the details. We are involved in all aspects of renewables: sitting on the steering group of the Anaerobic Digestion Action Plan, managing to ameliorate some of the less favourable things in the original draft, responding to the Emergency Review of the Feed-in Tariff and ensuring that the officials who put together the electricity market reform were careful to exclude smaller scale renewables from their proposals. The CLA will continue to press government for action on the regulation of anaerobic digestion.
CLA wins septic tank review
The Agency’s new rules were shown to be not properly thought out and were so poorly communicated that many householders were not only left at risk of breach through no fault of their own and unsure as to whether they needed an environmental permit, but under the impression that they had to replace their sewage system at great expense if they did not qualify for a permit.
The CLA will be working with Defra and the Environment Agency to ensure that these issues are addressed in England and discussions continue with the Welsh Government to establish the reasons why a similar review was not considered necessary in Wales.
CLA wins recognition for environmental role played by land managers
During 2012 we will pay close attention to ensuring that a member’s ability to develop his own business is not impeded by potential changes to Agri-Environment Schemes and Nature Improvement Areas. In Wales, we will be carefully monitoring the development of the Natural Environment Framework and the proposals put forward by the Welsh Government for creating a single environmental body by merging the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission.
CLA’s vision for water
Water and our means of managing it are crucial to the businesses of CLA members. It is for these reasons that the CLA will keep water high on the agenda in 2012, lobbying to influence the Government’s Water White Paper to ensure that the right policy frameworks are in place for water, land management and food production.
Business and Technology
CLA fights for a planning system which supports sustainable development
During 2011, after much consultation, we persuaded the Government to develop a planning policy which would be based on a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The CLA has been leading on this concept for a long time specifically calling for it in our 2010 position statement Planning for Change in the Countryside. If adopted and properly implemented, it will encourage appropriately scaled economic activity and certainly help members engaging with local objectors. It will mean that when you submit your application to convert a barn, or extend your house, the chances of the answer being “yes” will be far greater.
In 2012 we will need to ensure that, despite the emotional argument playing in the media, the Government holds firm and does not give in to any of the more extreme calls to backtrack. It is essential that rural businesses have a planning system that is fit for purpose and which encourages development that is appropriate in terms of its location, scale and design. If agreed, it will be important that CLA works closely with local authorities to make sure that the Government’s approach is adopted and integrated into local planning policy across England and Wales.
CLA continues to take the lead on rural broadband availability
Following our 2011 e-petition calling upon the Government to increase the benchmark broadband speed to 5 Mbps as part of the Universal Service Commitment, we will continue to lobby on this issue during 2012 and to ensure that any upgrade takes advantage of superfast broadband technology. In addition, we will also be challenging government to ensure that the mobile phone coverage in rural areas improves significantly and to allow rural businesses to “piggy-back” on available public sector broadband networks by using unused bandwidth.
CLA influences strategy for rural tourism
In 2011 the CLA was a key player in developing the Rural Tourism Action Plan which is an integral part of Visit England’s tourism strategy. As a result, this strategy now incorporates particular emphasis on the need for effective and affordable broadband, an emphasis on the value of promoting local and regional food and recognition of the importance of tourist information offices in rural areas.
During 2012 we will work to ensure that both the Government’s and Visit England’s tourism strategies are implemented in the best interests of our members and we will be publishing a CLA policy statement on rural tourism.
CLA pushes for a modern and thriving equine business sector
In 2012, the CLA will publish our policy and lobby for the changes that we believe will remove many of the hurdles currently facing equine businesses. For example, an amendment to the 1971 Animals Act to help reduce high insurance premiums for equine businesses and the development of a modern, flexible rights of way network to reflect contemporary land management and recreational needs.
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