Caroline Bedell is the regional director for the CLA in the Midlands, covering the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Here she looks at some of the issues that the Association, which represents the interests of landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is expecting to deal with during 2013.
Compulsory Purchase: "One of the biggest threats to private ownership will come from compulsory purchase as a result of major projects such as HS2 and the National Grid connection. The mere threat of compulsory purchase blights your property making it impossible to sell, difficult to plan and is in danger of destroying businesses built up over many generations. While no amount of money can truly compensate for this, the CLA's robust policy in this area will help provide a fairer deal for those affected."
Agriculture: "Farming is the biggest use of in rural areas and a profitable industry is much needed to underpin a vibrant rural economy. During the year we hope our continued efforts will help ensure the best possible deal for British farmers as the Common Agricultural Policy is reformed. By levelling the playing field we should be able to compete on a more equal footing with our EU counterparts, making the industry financially viable in the long term and attractive to new entrants."
Local Enterprise Partnerships: "The Local Enterprise Partnerships in our region are key to helping deliver economic prosperity, but we must ensure that the specific needs of rural areas are taken into account when creating wealth and jobs. We will continue to work closely with each one, making sure their policies benefit rural areas."
Broadband: "We must bring fast affordable broadband to every rural outpost for economic as well as social benefit. Today broadband is as essential as power and water to modern life, and we will continue to present a forceful argument to government and the providers to speed up rollout; it is little use making the fast even faster while some can't get connected at all."
Disease: "Early in the New Year we will be mobilising our members to guard against the threat of disease whether it be ash dieback, which threatens to devastate a good section of forestry, the emerging menace of the Schmallenberg affecting an increasing number of lambs and calves, or the debacle of Bovine TB, a situation that must be addressed head on by Government if our beef and dairy industry are to achieve their true potential."
Water: "We cannot predict the weather, although somewhere between drought and flood would be a welcome bonus. The CLA's Water Policy looks at ways for making the most of this precious resource to help the nation and together with our increased resources in the area of renewable energy, our members will not only feed the nation, they will be supplying it with power and water."
Planning: "With the new National Planning Policy Framework and the presumption in favour of sustainable development now an accepted and welcome principal, we will be monitoring progress closely to make sure that national policy is actually delivered on the ground.
The CLA Game Fair: "The countryside's biggest and best event returns to the region next year. The CLA Game Fair will be at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from 19-21 July. The last time this excellent venue hosted the event over 144,000 people turned up to see the very best that rural Britain has to offer and, weather permitting, I hope for a bumper crowd again. If you need evidence of the countryside's ability to punch above its weight, then Ragley will be the place to be in 2013."