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Hinterland - 15 February 2021

In this edition of Hinterland: the Brexit backbeat goes on, poor broadband, challenged pubs, pollution, the vaccine and some fabulous new archaeological finds...

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Half of UK exporters to EU are having Brexit difficulties, survey finds.

We live in strange times. Whilst wrestling with a pandemic we’re also pushing relentlessly with Brexit and re-organising the NHS. None of which make for comfortable times in rural England. This story tells us:

Half of British exporters to the EU are facing difficulties with mounting Brexit red tape and border disruption after a month of the new rules, according to one of the most comprehensive business surveys since leaving the bloc.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that 49% of UK-based exporters in a survey of 470 firms had suffered problems with post-Brexit arrangements since the start of the year, as companies struggled to adapt and faced higher costs due to extra border checks and paperwork.

Little more than a month into the UK’s new relationship with Brussels, the leading business lobby group warned that urgent action from both the British government and the EU was necessary to solve severe issues with cross-border trade.

UK farmers say poor rural connectivity is leaving them behind

A familiar refrain. I wonder why things never seem to improve….

More than four in 10 farmers still don’t have adequate fast and reliable broadband in order to run a modern-day farming business, according to a new NFU survey.

The results highlight the ongoing division between rural and urban areas, with the potential for essential food production business growth hampered by persistent poor connectivity and mobile coverage in rural areas.

Trying to farm more efficiently by monitoring crops and livestock, taking part in virtual business meetings, online banking and remote learning as part of home-schooling, all feature in the survey as reasons why farmers have been left frustrated over the past 12 months by slow broadband speeds and lack of mobile signals, a situation exacerbated by the global pandemic.

Boris will rip the heart out of rural communities if he does not lift lockdown on pubs

We rural dwellers have always known that rural pubs sit at the heart of rural communities. This story looks at the impact of the pandemice thereon….

BORIS Johnson has been warned that he will rip the heart out of Britain's rural communities with the permanent closure of pubs unless he starts lifting restrictions by Easter.

The warning comes after Downing Street was forced to scotch claims that it intended to allow pubs to reopen in April but not be allowed to serve alcohol until May.

But landlords across England have told the Sunday Express that existing restrictions designed to control covid in cities are killing off their businesses and threatening to end centuries of history in towns and villages. This includes ending the ban on them selling takeaway alcohol and the rule which means people mnst have a substantial meal if they order a drink.

Toxic air puts six million at risk of lung damage

Another strong reason to relocate to rural England….

About six million people aged over 65 in England are at high risk of lung damage and asthma attacks because of toxic air, according to a new report.

It finds that older people and those with lung disease who are most vulnerable to the effects of pollution are often the most exposed.

The new document is from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Asthma UK.

It comes as MPs also demand the government sets tougher targets for air pollution.

Improving air quality needs to be "at the core" of the UK's post-pandemic rebuild, say members of a House of Commons committee that focuses on environmental issues.

The new report by two of the UK's leading respiratory charities finds that a quarter of all care homes and a third of all GP practices and hospitals in England are in places where particulate pollution exceeds the limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the new report.

The focus is on exposure to fine particulate matter.

England 'on track' for vaccinating Covid priority groups

This really is amazing progress and I think rural communities have been fully supported and engaged in the process. This story tells us:

The NHS is "firmly on track" to offer everyone in the top four priority groups in England a Covid vaccine by Monday, says the head of NHS England.

Sir Simon Stevens said it had been "the fastest and largest vaccination campaign in history".

The UK government's aim is to reach 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February - and 14 million have been vaccinated so far.

Wales said on Friday it was the first UK nation to meet its target.

Speaking at the Coventry hospital where the first person in the UK to be vaccinated - 91-year-old Maggie Keenan - received her first dose, Sir Simon said it had been an "incredible achievement" by staff and volunteers.

"The uptake has been fantastic - we thought three-quarters would say yes to the vaccine but more than nine out of 10 have done so," he said.

Anyone aged over 70 in England who hasn't been vaccinated can go online or call 119 to book an appointment.

From next week, details of who will be vaccinated in the next phase of the programme involving the over 50s and people with underlying health conditions will be set out. They are due to be vaccinated by May.

And Finally

Astonishing’ dig reveals domestic life in the iron age

This exciting story of lost history is worth repeating for the place name Wittenham Clumps alone. It tells us….

When archaeologists began excavating land near the iron age hillfort at Wittenham Clumps, a famous Oxfordshire landmark, they were hopeful of unearthing something of interest because the area has been occupied for more than 3,000 years. But nothing prepared them for the excitement of discovering an extended iron age settlement, with the remains of more than a dozen roundhouses dating from 400BC to 100BC – as well as an enormous Roman villa built in the late third to early fourth century.

The structures would have remained buried beneath the sprawling green landscape if not for a decision by Earth Trust, the environmental charity that cares for it, to redevelop its visitor centre. Investigating the archaeology was part of the planning application.

About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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