THE next government must recognise the importance of rural businesses to the economy, business leaders have warned.
With 10 months to go before the next general election, the Country Land and Business Association unveiled its manifesto on Friday (18 July).
The document, Unlock the Countryside's Potential, was launched during a special debate on the first day of the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
CLA members own or manage around half the rural land in England and Wales - and run over 250 types of business, said CLA president Henry Robinson.
That, he claimed, puts the organisation in a unique position to advise the next government on how it might best unlock the social, economic and environmental benefits that rural areas can offer society as a whole.
Mr Robinson said: "Importantly, we are the only organisation that can help the next government achieve the long term security food, water, housing and energy issues that will be at the top of every party's agenda.
"We are publishing our manifesto ahead of the general election campaign because it sets out key recommendations that will enable candidates to achieve a better understanding of the countryside and enable those elected to effect real change.
"It is a vision which will help rural areas prosper over the lifetime of the next government,"
In its manifesto, the association calls on the next government to consider 76 recommendations in the areas of property and ownership; landscape and farming; environment and natural resources; and business and technology.
Mr Robinson said: "Our manifesto is a 'must read' document for all candidates, both urban and rural."
He added: "It will help them ensure that the countryside is not disadvantaged by predominantly urban-based legislation and that it will remain a dynamic, thriving place for those who come to visit and for those who live and to work there.
"Our policies are long-term, and candidates putting themselves forward for election need to be thinking ahead. Our advisers will be happy to brief politicians of all colours on the often-complex issues specific to rural areas."
The CLA Manifesto Unlock the Countryside's Potential can be downloaded here.
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