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NEW RURAL AGENCY WILL HAVE STRONG INDEPENDENT STATUS

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Environment secretary Margaret Beckett today confirmed the statutory ...
Environment secretary Margaret Beckett today confirmed the statutory

independence of a new agency, which will bring together elements of

the work done by English Nature, the Countryside Agency and Defra's

Rural Development Service.

The agency's creation was recommended by Lord Haskins in his Rural

Delivery Review, published on 11 November 2003.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Mrs Beckett said:

'It is important to me that the integrated agency should have a

strong and authoritative voice commanding respect both within and

outside government. It is equally important that the advice I receive

from the integrated agency is not only independent, but is seen to be

independent.

'I have therefore decided that this new agency will be established as

an executive non-departmental public body.'

The integrated agency will build upon and strengthen work on

biodiversity, natural resource protection and landscape issues in

order to improve the environment across rural, urban, marine and

coastal England. It will also provide independent advice and

challenge to policy-makers and implement policy within the framework

of the government's approach to sustainable development.

This announcement comes in the build up to publication of Defra's

refreshed rural strategy, which Mrs Beckett intends to publish this

spring. This will bring together the findings of the Rural White

Paper review and the study of England's rural communities by the

Rural Research Centre at Birkbeck College, and will set out the way

in which the strategy is to be delivered in the future.

Notes

1. Lord Haskins' Rural Delivery Review was published on 11

November 2003. The review made recommendations on simplifying

responsibilities for rural delivery, maximising value for money,

providing better, more streamlined services and helping to deliver

Defra's rural priorities and Public Service Agreement target cost

effectiv ely. For the full text of Margaret Beckett's response to the

Rural Delivery Review, and Lord Haskins' recommendations, visit

www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/ministers/statements/mb031111.htm

2. On 14 July 2003, the report Social and Economic Change and

Diversity in Rural England was published. The work, carried out at

Defra's new Rural Evidence Research Centre led from Birkbeck College,

presents the findings of an analysis of 2001 Census and other

information regarding some social and economic characteristics of

rural areas in England. The report can be viewed at

http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/rwpreview/default.htm

3. The review of the Rural White Paper was also published on

Wednesday 14th July. This assesses progress, examines whether

objectives needed refreshing in the light of wider changes to the

government's agenda, and looks for ways to accelerate delivery. It is

available at www.defra.gov.uk/rural/rwpreview

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