Surrey’s rural businesses could look forward to a much better new year, if national and local government took action to solve some key issues for the countryside, says CLA Surrey branch chairman, Stephen Godwin-Austen.
Stephen Godwin-Austen, who owns and manages an arable and woodland estate near Cranleigh, says his top new year resolutions for Government would make a significant difference to many of the landowners, farmers and rural businesses represented by the CLA in Surrey.
- Fly-tipping: we need a co-ordinated approach from the Council and Police, as well as free removal of fly-tipped waste for affected landowners, who currently have to pay to get rid of the rubbish themselves.
- Planning: the key issue is allowing sustainable development in the Green Belt and Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to enable farm diversification. We also need more consistency from local authorities on the use of permitted development rights.
- Universal coverage of broadband and mobile: there are still too many ‘not spots’ and slow broadband speeds in rural Surrey.
- Energy Performance Certificates: more work is needed by Government on exemptions, as without urgent reform to reflect the energy efficiency of traditionally built homes, many rented homes in rural areas are at a disadvantage or even risk being incorrectly labelled illegal to let.
Stephen Godwin-Austen adds: “There is much that we can do as a sector to prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead, especially as we get closer to Brexit, but Government also needs to continue to play its part, and provide rural businesses with the tools and support they need to prosper.”