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Rural Areas: Sustainable Development

Volume 457: debated on Friday 23 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what programmes his Department funds which aim to promote the sustainability of rural communities. (121838)

A number of DEFRA programmes have a positive impact on the sustainability of rural communities. The most relevant programmes in this financial year are:

Contributing to the Regional Development Agencies' Single Programme to meet a number of DEFRA's objectives, including increasing economic productivity in rural areas.

Rural Social and Community Programme which helps rural communities shape their future by developing the capacity of the voluntary and community sector and parish and town councils and addressing locally defined issues of disadvantage.

EU co-funded Rural Development Programme for England for the period 2007-13 and on-going commitments from the England Rural Development Programme 2000-06. The new programme will not begin until outstanding funding issues are resolved within the EU.

EU co-funded LEADER+ programme, which assists 25 rural communities in improving the quality of life and economic prosperity in their local areas.

EU co-funded Objective 1 programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, South Yorkshire and Merseyside which promotes the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind.

DEFRA supports a sustainable agricultural sector which, in turn, helps underpin the overall sustainability of rural communities.

DEFRA also funds the Commission for Rural Communities. Their role is to provide well-informed, independent advice to the Government and ensure that mainstream policies, and the delivery of services, reflects the real needs of people living and working in rural areas of England.