A look back at 2017

21 December 2017

January - HS2 victory – compulsory purchase 

The Government acted on the CLA’s calls to prohibit HS2 Ltd from buying land through compulsory purchase to develop projects unrelated to the construction of the rail line.

Former CLA President Ross Murray said: “We are delighted the Government has seen sense over giving HS2 Ltd the ability to compulsorily acquire land for lucrative developments completely unrelated to the railway which would have been an outrageous land grab.

February - Reform of newt licensing and housing White Paper/rural planning review 

The Government’s decision to roll out a reformed licensing process that would make it easier to develop housing and conserve great crested newts at the same time was hailed by the CLA as “a breakthrough in a long-running campaign for a new, common sense approach to development and conservation”.

The CLA also welcomed the release of the housing White Paper which proposed the building of new homes in rural areas. 

March - CLA published Retro Fit Up and New Opportunities briefing on trade 

To address the concerns of homeowners and landlords of homes built before 1919, the CLA published The Retrofit-Up - How government energy policy is failing older houses across the British countryside, a report calling on the Government to consider 10 recommendations to help older houses.

As part of the New Opportunities series of publications, the CLA released a briefing on how to establish a free trade agreement that works for the food and farming industry.

April - Efra Committee report on labour

The CLA saw a significant victory after lobbying the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee to create a scheme that allows migrants of both EU and non-EU countries to enter the UK for a set period of time and for a specific job vital to the needs of the rural economy.

Feeding the nation: labour constraints, a report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Select Committee is available here. 

May - Launch of The countryside matters campaign

The CLA launched a new campaign to unite people who believe the countryside is worth investment and should remain a vital national priority for Government funding.

As well as garnering public support ‘The Countryside Matters’ campaign aimed to educate people about the important benefits delivered by a working countryside, from supplying affordable and nutritious food through to promoting natural storage and cleaning of water and maintaining habitats for wildlife.

June - Gove appointed Secretary of State and Queen’s Speech announces Agriculture Bill 

The CLA welcomed the appointment of Michael Gove as Secretary of State. Former CLA President Ross Murray said: “He brings significant experience, a reputation for robust challenge of the status quo and a reformer’s zeal. These are all qualities that will serve the land based sector well.”

In her annual address, the Queen set out government plans to bring forward an Agriculture Bill in the next two years. The Bill aims to ensure a system is in place to support UK farmers and protect the natural environment as the UK leaves the Common Agricultural Policy. Former CLA President Ross Murray said: “We will press for this Bill to deliver absolute certainty for farmers that the current system of support will continue funding at current levels for at least five years. This is the vital reassurance that we have campaigned for since the referendum, and will help farmers and rural businesses to make plans for the medium term.”

July - CLA Housing Summit and housing report and Land Management Contract launch 

The CLA held a Housing Summit cementing the CLA's position as a leading national voice in the rural housing debate. Strong Foundations, a CLA policy report on rural housing was published.

The report set out how to ensure the current restrictive planning system does not stop socio-economic growth in rural areas by supporting policies on planning, tax and the development of new private rented housing. 

The CLA launched the Land Management Contract, a new way to give farmers a choice to deliver environmental outcomes in return for public money, if they agree conditions that are more transparent, easier to administer and demonstrate value for money for the taxpayer

The document highlights how the contract would form one important part of an overarching ‘Food, Farming and Environmental Policy’ that would also see budget allocated to measures that will support an increase in farming productivity and rural economic prosperity.

August - Countryfile Live

The CLA took 'The Countryside Matters' campaign to BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, showing visitors why investing in the countryside should be a government priority and how the return on that investment benefits everyone.

September - Efra Committee launches trade inquiry

The Efra Committee launched its inquiry into food trade post-Brexit inviting evidence on the impact potential new trading arrangements with the EU would have on the UK food and farming sectors.

Former CLA President Ross Murray said: “This is an important inquiry at a crucial time. The UK’s position within the global market place will define the future of our farming sector and how we use our land. There are many opportunities, but the top priority will be getting our future trading relationship with the EU right.”

October - The Countryside Matters event in Parliament 

  

MPs and Peers from across the parties turned out to show their support for continued investment in the countryside through Brexit and beyond at The Countryside Matters CLA event in Parliament.

The event highlighted how after the UK ends its participation in the Common Agricultural Policy, a new framework for investing in the countryside can be delivered that better meets the needs of rural Britain. Among those lending their support were Defra Minister Lord Gardiner, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Sue Hayman and former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

November - New CLA President and Redefining Farming conference 

    

Cambridgeshire farmer Tim Breitmeyer became the new President of the CLA in early November. Mr Breitmeyer, who farms near Bartlow on the Cambridgeshire-Essex border, succeeded Monmouthshire landowner Ross Murray becoming the 53rd president in the CLA’s 110-year history.

The CLA released the latest New Opportunities briefing setting out a vision for post-Brexit Food, Farming and Environmental Policy. The CLA called for a dedicated strategy that targets investment at supporting farmers to be more resilient, productive and profitable. 

The CLA held the second annual Rural Business Conference in Westminster on 28 November. Around 500 CLA members were in attendance to hear from speakers such as Secretary of State Michael Gove, environmentalist Sir Tim Smit and a range of industry leaders from across the farming industry. 

December - USO for rural broadband 

The CLA welcomed the Government’s confirmation that universal high-speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO). CLA Senior Rural Business Adviser Dr Charles Trotman said: “The challenges of rolling out fast, reliable and affordable rural broadband are well known but have been recognised by the Government with the commitment to provide a universal service obligation of at least 10 Mbps from 2020.”