HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 cc549-50W
Mrs. May

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment his Department has made of the benefit of the Rural Action for the Environment scheme; and what support will be made available for the continuation of this scheme in 1999–2000. [81392]

Mr. Meale

[holding answer 19 April 1999]: I refer to my answer of 12 January 1999, Official Report, columns 169 and 187.

I understand that the Countryside Agency, together with English Nature, will conduct, over the coming year, a comprehensive review of local community based action, including Rural Action for the Environment, and the benefits of small grants in achieving that. The funding which they are making available to the Rural Action county networks will support the networks' input to that review.

More recently, the National Lottery Charities Board (NLCB) has offered funding to a consortium led by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), and including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and the Wildlife Trust Partnership, for a body—not yet constituted but also, I understand, intended to be called Rural Action—to run a programme of support for disadvantaged rural groups with a view to helping them undertake sustainable local projects. ACRE has approached DETR for grant aid in support of the NLCB offer, and this is under consideration.