Defra still 'developing' rural proofing

THE government says it is continuing to develop new guidelines requiring departments to consider the rural impact of their policies.

Defra minister Richard Benyon said the government's Rural Statement published in September had reaffirmed ministers' commitment to the policy and practice of rural proofing.

"We are developing new guidelines on rural proofing to support all government departments to examine the evidence of rural need."

Mr Benyon added: "Departments must consider the impacts of their policies on rural communities and businesses and, where appropriate, adjust policies accordingly.

"The new guidelines will be considered by ministers in all government departments before being published," he said.

Mr Benyon was responding to a parliamentary question from Dan Rogerson, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall on Thursday (6 December).

The minister did not indicate when the new guidelines would be in place.

However, the Rural Statement says Defra will publish a new, practical government-wide rural proofing package "in autumn 2012" .

An external review of the impact of the new rural proofing package would be undertaken in autumn 2013, the statement says.

Defra's rural proofing webpage says a detailed rural proofing toolkit, developed by the Commission for Rural Communities, remains available to assist in the rural proofing process.

This guidance is being updated by Defra's Rural Communities Policy Unit but the current version is still valid, the website adds.

A Rural Proofing for Health Toolkit was published on 30 November.


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