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RURAL AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GUIDANCE FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES ISSUED

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Regional Development Agencies should take an integrated approach to tackling economic issues in their areas, minist...
Regional Development Agencies should take an integrated approach to tackling economic issues in their areas, minister for the Regions richard Caborn said yesterday.

Speaking as guidance for the RDAs on sustainable development and rural policy was published for consultation, Mr Caborn said that in their regional strategies and all their activities they should bring together economic, social and environmental objectives in both town and country.

'We have recently consulted on draft statutory guidance for Regional Development Agencies on the development of their regional strategies. In that guidance we have stressed that RDAs should take an integrated and sustainable approach to tackling economic issues across their regions, taking account of the particular features of their rural areas.

'The guidance notes on sustainable development and rural policy that are being issued in draft today are intended to assist the RDAs on these matters.', he said. The draft guidance notes will:

- form part of a guidance package to assist RDAs in delivering their programmes, and exercising their functions more generally;

- draw attention to relevant policies and issues;

- set out the contribution which RDAs can make and the key partners with which they will wish to work; and

- explain that the sustainable development strategy and rural white paper to be published next year will set out the government's policy framework more fully.

Environment minister Michael Meacher said:

'The government's new national sustainable development strategy, to be published early in 1999, will provide the starting point for RDAs in contributing to sustainable development. RDAs will have a pivotal role in their region in delivering the strategy's objectives and we anticipate that they will wish to act as an example to others in promoting sustainable development and in reflecting it in their work.

'RDAs will have a key role in ensuring that rural areas benefit from, and contribute to, the development of their region as a whole and taking forward the government's commitment to an integrated approach to rural policy. The Government's Rural White Paper to be published next year will set out more fully our new framework for rural policy.'

The drafts build on informal soundings taken both within and outside government and will form part of a package of guidance to be available to the RDAs early in the new year.

Notes

1. Mr Caborn was answering a Parliamentary Question from Peter Bradley MP (The Wrekin).

2. copies of the draft guidance are available from the Sustainable

Development Unit and the Rural Development Division, DETR

3. Regional Development Agencies will be new business-led bodies in each of the regions of England. They will be the lead bodies at the regional level for co-ordinating inward investment, raising people's skills, improving the competitiveness of business and regeneration

activity. They will develop and promote a strategy for their region covering the whole range of theiractivities. Statutory guidance (on which consultation has recently taken place) will be issued to the RDAs on the preparation of these strategies.

4. Section 4 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 gives RDAs a statutory purpose to contribute to sustainable development in the United Kingdom. Guidance on sustainable development will be issued to the RDAs, forming part of a wider package to be available early next year. The draft guidance outlines the sustainable development context in which RDAs will work and considers some of the ways that RDAs can contribute to promoting sustainable development at the regional level. Responses to the consultation draft are requested by 22 January 1999 and should be sent to Ms J Foli, Sustainable Development Unit, 3/G26, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE. Fax 0171 890 6169. Email sdu@gtnet.gov.uk

5. Section 4 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 makes clear that an RDA's statutory purposes apply as much to the rural parts of their region as to the non-rural parts. Guidance on rural policy will be issued to the RDAs, forming part of a wider package to be available early next year. The draft guidance is designed to assist the agencies in considering the rural dimension of their brief, in particular the preparation of their strategies. It outlines the policy context, identifies some key rural partners, and summarises key features of rural area and how RDAs should take account of these in their work. Responses to the consultation draft are requested by 22 January 1999 and should be sent to Mr P Reilly, Rural Development Division, 3/C5, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU. Fax 0171 890 5629. Email: rural.development.detr@gtnet.gov.uk. Copies of the draft guidance are also available on the Internet at http://www.detr.gov.uk/

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