HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc950-2W
Mr. Goodman

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the activities pursued by her Department that have had a particular impact on the Wycombe constituency since 7 June 2001. [58625]

Mr. Morley

FMD Signposts to Recovery conference, held in Berkshire end of June 2001, which covered the Wycombe District. This was one of two seminars held in the region. This was to assist businesses in the recovery process from foot and mouth disease and any precautionary measures. The conference was targeted at advisers and advisory organisations in public and private sectors that regularly provide support, advice or information to rural businesses, e.g. SEEDA, CA, SE Tourist Board, NFU and Farm Crisis Network. Information was provided from a variety of Government sponsored agencies and partner organisations, Rural Business Recovery Fund, Farm Business Advisory Service, Countryside Agency Grants.

A planning seminar was held in January 2002 to cover the three counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Wycombe District Council as the planning authority was invited to attend. There were four seminars held in total across the region, in a series resulting from the Government's Action Plan for Farming. The seminar focused on farm diversification and rural business development issues and brought together relevant partners at the regional and local level, to take account of regional needs and variations.

Wycombe district is currently making changes to its deposit draft of its local plan to be adopted and run until 2011. The policies within this deposit draft have been assessed with regard to PPG7, by DEFRA representatives in the Government Office for the South East, which sets out how the Government's objectives for rural areas should be reflected in land use planning. Specific policies have been commented on and suggestions for appropriate wording given.

Wycombe District Council has held a Rural Affairs Seminar, which was attended by DEFRA regional representation, on 23 November 2001 at which James Ellis MEP gave a presentation on the Reform of the CAP. Representatives from the parishes within the Wycombe constituency were present as well as interest groups and local farmers, which provided an opportunity for networking between rural partners.

The South East Rural Affairs Forum has been successfully set up, by DEFRA in the GOSE following recommendations in the Rural White Paper. The first meeting of the group was on 15 April in Guildford. This forum gives the opportunity for rural stakeholders across the south east to give their views on how rural policy is being delivered in the region. Councillor Bill Lidgate is representative on the forum covering Buckinghamshire's area. He is a member of the county council, and South Buckinghamshire district council with extensive knowledge of issues facing rural communities. He is a farmer who runs diversified rural enterprises including pedigree herd and retail farm shop. Chair of the Royal South Bucks Agricultural Association.

The Countryside Agency, English Nature and Forestry Commission have been actively working with the Chilterns AONB which covers a major area of the constituency, and other partners to develop sustainable approaches to ensuring the long-term prospects for the chalk grasslands and beech woodlands that contribute to the unique characteristic of the Chiltern landscape. This involves developing support mechanisms and incentives for the farming and forestry practices that will perpetuate these features, working with producers through to the marketing of end products.

Applications for the England rural development programme have been received from within Wycombe constituency. There has been one successful rural enterprise scheme project to date and there are currently two Countryside Stewardship Scheme agreements covering collectively approximately 8ha. In addition 97ha are currently being managed under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme.

In addition to the ERDP there are continuing CAP payments for most farms in the constituency.