Public backs call for continued investment in the countryside

02 August 2017

More than eight out of 10 people (84%) think the Government should spend money on preserving and managing the countryside.

The findings were revealed by a poll of more than 1,500 people undertaken by YouGov for the CLA. In addition, the poll showed that 61% of the public think that the current spend of £3bn per year is either the right amount of public money to spend on it (40%) or too little (21%).

Just over a quarter (27%) said the landscape was the feature they most enjoy about visiting the countryside and just under half (44%) knew that farmers and landowners are responsible for managing it.

A total of 42% of people surveyed thought food production should be one of the top priorities for government investment in the countryside with flood management, enhancing wildlife and planting trees coming close behind.

The CLA is running a campaign, The Countryside Matters, which aims to unite people who love the countryside and believe investing in it should remain a national priority for the UK Government. The results of the survey are due to be unveiled at BBC Countryfile Live on 3 August.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “It is reassuring to see that the countryside matters to so many of the Great British public. Our survey has shown a ringing endorsement of how important investing in the countryside is so that we can continue to eat nutritious and wholesome food, breathe clean air and enjoy a rich diversity of wildlife.

“Managing the landscape, producing quality food and planting trees bring benefits to every person who lives in, works in, or enjoys visiting our countryside. But these benefits require investment. We have a unique opportunity post-Brexit to ensure farmers and landowners are better recognised for undertaking this vital work. The CLA has set out a vision for a Land Management Contract as a new way to deliver what is needed, using public money more cost-effectively to reward land managers for this wide range of public benefits. We will be promoting the contract to the Government over the coming months to help develop a new food, farming and environmental policy.

“So now is the time to take action. If you believe in a vibrant, living and working countryside then you believe the countryside matters. Support our call for continued investment in the countryside by signing up at www.thecountrysidematters.org, back the campaign @clatweets and tell us why the countryside matters to you using the hashtag #thecountrysidematters.”

The CLA will be taking The Countryside Matters campaign to BBC Countryfile Live from 3-6 August, telling visitors at the event why investing in the countryside should be a government priority and how the return on that investment benefits everyone.