Book your place at the National Rural Conference 2022

If your organisation is a member of the RSN through the SPARSE, Rural Assembly, RSP or RHCA you can book your free place at the National Rural Conference now and join rural specialists to debate key issues.  We have over 600 bookings already so book your place now!

Hinterland - 20 July 2020

In Hinterland this week, the common refrain of a need for the relaxation of planning regulations, rural England to be hit worst by the axing of Huawei, local democracy over- ruled in terms of planning and the threat of national intervention if local authorities get the policy on local lockdowns wrong, carbon benefit ebbing away with the lifting of lockdown and some great places to get away from it all (please also leave the pandemic at home!) in rural England.

*         *          *

Simpler planning system may unlock billions in rural economy

Well the CLA don’t seem to be sitting on the fence here. I do wonder if part of the response to coronavirus in rural economies might not be to follow their lead here and be a bit more liberal in terms of planning. This article tells us:

Simplifying the planning system and making improvements for rural areas could unlock billions of pounds in the economy, according to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

The organisation’s policy report Rural Powerhouse: a planning system designed for the rural economy was published on Friday 17 July.

It explains how a simpler and properly resourced planning system can support, enable and enhance development in the countryside.

Currently, the planning system is complicated, lengthy and expensive, and actively discourages people from investing in rural areas through development, says the CLA.

Mark Bridgeman, CLA president, said the government is looking to adapt the planning system – as shown by the prime minister’s recent “Build, Build, Build” announcement – and it is crucial to ensure it works in rural areas as well as the urban high street.

“The sheer cost of going through the planning system makes it an increasing hurdle, and this is a big issue for many of our members,” said Mr Bridgeman.

“Applicants must spend thousands of pounds on planning costs without really knowing if they’re going to be able to make it a success. Our key focus is how can we simplify this?”

Huawei decision 'may delay 5G by three years and cost UK £7bn'

Looks like rural areas may face the brunt of our withdrawal from Huawei according to this article which tells us.

Small towns and rural areas across the UK will be hardest hit by delays of up to three years in the rollout of 5G mobile technology, experts have said after ministers announced that Huawei will be stripped from networks by 2027.

The total cost to the economy could exceed £7bn, according to research analysing the potential cost of eliminating the Chinese equipment supplier in response to US sanctions and pressure from about 60 rebel Tory MPs.

The Huawei dispute is only one part of a wider UK-China struggle

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, announced a U-turn on the role of Huawei in 5G networks on Tuesday, earning criticism from China and praise from the US, who said the company poses a threat to national security.

China’s ambassador to the UK branded the decision “disappointing and wrong”. Liu Xiaoming tweeted: “It has become questionable whether the UK can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries.”

Cleve Hill Solar Park judicial review bid by Kent council fails

Stories like this make me wonder what the point of local democracy is…

A council has been told it cannot challenge plans to build the UK's largest solar farm on the north Kent coast.

The Cleve Hill Solar Park will consist of 800,000 panels built on 890 acres (360 hectares) of farmland at Graveney.

Swale Borough Council was told there is no legal basis on which they can challenge the government's decision to approve the plan.

The council had argued for a judicial review to protect wildlife habitats.

The consent for the development was granted to Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd by the government, on 28 May.

Carbon savings' from Covid-19 lockdown halve within weeks

Looks like a return to work is quickly cancelling out the positive unintended consequences of environmental benefit. This article tells us:

The UK’s carbon emissions have begun to rebound following the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures, causing the “carbon savings” triggered by the coronavirus to halve within weeks.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and transport industries climbed last month as more people returned to work, raising demand for fossil fuels from record lows in April when strict lockdown measures were in place, according to new data.

An analysis by Sia Partners, seen by the Guardian, shows that the UK’s carbon emissions fell by 36% in the first four weeks of the lockdown compared to the most recent official carbon emissions data collected in 2018.

But by June Britain’s total emissions savings had dwindled to a 16% drop as more cars returned to its roads and demand for energy began to rise.

Chloé Depigny, a senior manager at Sia Partners, said the data underlines the fragility of the UK’s short-term carbon savings during the coronavirus, and the need for ambitious fundamental changes to the economy if the government hopes to meet its long-term carbon targets.

Ministers can intervene if councils slow to act on local lockdowns, says Johnson

Looks like the pressure is about to ramp up considerably on local authorities as the challenge and blame for local lockdowns is set to be passed to us! This story tells us:

Ministers will gain new powers to intervene if local authorities do not act quickly enough against coronavirus outbreaks, Boris Johnson has said.

In a series of tweets, Johnson announced ministers would be able to close “whole sectors or types of premises” in a given area, impose localised stay-at-home orders, prevent people entering or leaving certain areas, limit the maximum number of people at a gathering and reduce transport in local areas. This would be “guided by evidence”, he said.

Johnson added the details would be outlined in draft regulations published next week.

From Saturday, local councils have gained greater powers to help avert local lockdowns, including the ability to shut down shops, events and close public outdoor spaces.

And Finally

10 of the UK's best rural summer holidays for families

This potpourri of options seems a lifetime away from angry residents in May telling city folk they weren’t welcome. Take your pick and drink deep at the well of rural England…..

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


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.