today by rural affairs minister Alun Michael as a step in the right
seeking views on a number of issues around the proposals, ahead of
formal negotiations beginning with European partners in September.
Mr Michael said:
'I am pleased that the proposals for the new Rural Development
Regulation are in step in many ways with one of the aims of the
government's Rural Strategy 2004 - to simplify rural funding streams.
In particular there is a proposal to target funding along three axes:
farm and forestry competitiveness, land management and environment,
and support for wider rural diversification.'
Under the current Rural Development Regulation Defra operates the
England Rural Development Programme, ten schemes to protect and
improve the countryside, develop sustainable enterprises and help
rural communities to thrive. The new Regulation will form the basis
of future rural development programmes across the EU from 2007 to
Mr Michael added that the UK government would prefer a greater
proportion of funding be allocated to the second axis - land
management and environment - than that currently suggested by the
commission, in order to contribute to wider EU environmental
objectives, and that the UK would want the commission to consider a
more equitable allocation of funding between member states.
'We will engage robustly in the forthcoming negotiations to push for
a fair, objective criteria-based allocation of the available funding,
and a greater emphasis on environmental objectives.
'While we will be open to getting feedback to this consultation
through traditional channels, we would encourage people to make use
of the web-based system wherever possible to join the debate.
'Not only will it reduce the volume of paper needed for a full public
consultation, it offers the convenience of submitting comments
online, and gives access to a message board for exchanging views. It
will also enable us to analyse responses more quickly and ensure
those views can feed into the early negotiation stages.'
The consultation closes on 12 November 2004, but Defra is welcoming
responses well ahead of that date so that those views can be put
across in Europe early on.
1. The European Commission published its proposals for a new Rural
www.defra.gov.uk/rural/rdrconsultation/regulation.htm on 15 July
2004. The current Rural Development Regulation (1257/1999) is the
legal basis for the England Rural Development Programme
www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/default.htm which closes to applications at the
end of 2006. Rural Development Programmes for Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland are also operated under this Regulation. The new
draft proposals will form the basis for future rural development
programmes across the EU for the period 2007-2013.
2. The website for the consultation exercise, which also includes
links to relevant documents, regulations and background material is
3. The public consultation period will run from 17 August to 12
November 2004. Working group negotiations on the draft regulation
are expected to start in the autumn, and continue until summer 2005.
4. Where respondents do not wish to use the web based mechanism,
written responses can be sent by e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org. They can be faxed on 020 7238 6902.
Telephone inquiries can be made to 020 7238 6112. Written responses
should be sent to Defra, Rural Development Division, Area 5C, Ergon
House, Horseferry Road, London. SW1P 2AL
5. The current England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) provides a
framework for the operation of 10 separate but integrated schemes
which provide new opportunities to protect and improve the
countryside, to develop sustainable enterprises and to help rural
communities to thrive. The schemes (and a brief outline of their
- Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas Schemes
(protecting landscapes and wildlife habitats, improving
- Organic Farming Scheme (promoting organic production).
- Hill Farm Allowance Scheme (supporting sustainable farming in the
- Woodland Grant and Farm Woodland Premium Schemes (encouraging
planting of new woodland and maintenance of existing woodland).
- Energy Crops Scheme (encouraging renewable energy production).
- Rural Enterprise Scheme (supporting a diversified and enterprising
- Vocational Training Scheme (improving occupational skills of
- Processing and Marketing Grant (improving agricultural processing
and marketing infrastructure).
6. A total of£1.6bn of EU and Government money is being made
available under these schemes in England during the 7 years (2000 to
2006) of the programme.