Time for a rural powerhouse to tackle countryside challenges – The Yorkshire Post says

TODAY’S report by the CPRE on how a combination of lousy public transport, loneliness and lack of affordable housing is pushing young people out of the countryside needs to be set in the national context.

How can rural communities become more sustainable?

The rural economy is worth at least £250bn a year in England alone. Yet it could contribute so much more if the Government took the concerns of countryside areas seriously.

As the Covid pandemic has shown, there’s a desire for better-off families to move out of cities as they place an added premium on their quality of life at a time when remote working is becoming the new norm, post-pandemic, for a great many people.

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Yet this is little consolation to younger generations who simply cannot afford to gain a foothold on the property ladder – or find their careers, and lives, restricted, by infrequent or non-existent public transport.

George Eustice is the Environment Secretary.

To them, they have little or no choice other than to move away from the area where they grew up and are proud to call home – a trend that, in turn, creates an even greater demographic imbalance.

However, rather than ignoring these issues, the Government should be coming up with a ‘rural powerhouse’ strategy that paves the way for market towns, and local parishes, to both survive and thrive.

Not only should this be a key component of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ strategy which, like so many national policies, pays ‘lip service’ to the countryside, but it would help Defra begin to fulfil its three-pronged remit as the Department for the Environment, Food and – in case George Eustice has forgotten – Rural Affairs.

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