Speaking at the Council for the Protection of Rural England at their Council Meeting in London today, Mr Gummer said:
'Conservation alone is not enough. New jobs and wealth are needed in rural areas just as much as in towns. I want local planning authorities in rural areas to give the need to diversify the rural economy as much priority in their thinking as protecting the countryside, for the two go hand-in- hand.
'My Ministers and I will be touring England in the coming months to bring this message home, warming planners and planning committees to new enthusiasm for job creation and wealth creation in the countryside.'
'On local designations. Mr Gummer said: 'One problem that users of the planning system can come across is the proliferation of local designations in development plans. Local planning authorities should be cautious about introducing their own protective designations, such as Areas of Great Landscape Value. Otherwise there is a danger of placing unnecessary barriers in the way of economic activity, in the shape of diversifying the rural economy.
'Our guidance does recognise that there may be some areas which, while they do not justify a national designation such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are worthy of some degree of special protection because of their local importance.
'Authorities only should apply local designation where there is good reason to believe that the normal planning policies cannot be applied to provide the necessary protection. Superfluous designations may deter necessary economic activity and stifle useful change.