HC Deb 17 June 2002 vol 387 cc49-50W
Mr. Andrew Turner

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 Isle of Wight since 7 June 2001. [57675]

Mr. Morley

[holding answer 10 June 2002]: 'FMD Signposts to Recovery' conference, held (in Berkshire) at the end of June 2001, covered the Isle of Wight interests. This was one of two seminars held in the regions to assist rural businesses in the recovery process from the impacts of foot and mouth disease and the precautionary measures required to contain it. Conference was targeted at advisers and advisory organisations in public and private sectors that regularly provide support, advice or information to rural businesses. Organised from Government Office South East for DEFRA, with, SEEDA (Regional Development Agency), Countryside Agency, SE Tourist Board, NFU and Farm Crisis Network, et.al. Information was provided on a variety of Government sponsored resources from Departments, agencies and partner organisations, e.g. Rural Business Recovery Fund, Farm Business Advisory Service, Countryside Agency Grants etc.

A seminar on 'Planning and Rural Diversification' was held in January 2002 to cover the two counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (held at Sparsholt College near Winchester). Representatives from the Isle of Wight Unitary Authority as the local planning authority were 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 seminars 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.

The Isle of Wight adopted its unitary development plan in May 2001, which had received input from the former MAFF. Any further input on behalf of DEFRA for a review will be made through the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), in conjunction with the interests of other Departments. Some dialogue is expected in respect of implementing national Planning Policy Guidance, notably PPG3 on housing and PPG7 which sets out the Government's objectives for rural areas.

The South East Rural Affairs Forum has been set up following recommendations in the Rural White Paper. The First meeting of the Group was on the 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. Cllr Harry Rees is a member, who is also a Member of the Isle of Wight Council Executive and other local bodies on the Island.

The Countryside Agency, English Nature, Forestry Commission and other Agencies sponsored by DEFRA work with the Isle of Wight AONB which covers a third of the Island. Representatives of the Government Office for the South East Department have attended meetings of the Joint Action Committee on behalf of DEFRA to contribute to the action programme of the AONB.

Applications for the England rural Development Programme (ERDP) have been received from within the Island constituency. There have been four successful Rural Enterprise scheme projects agreed to date and one Vocational Training Scheme project. There are over 70 hectares supported under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. There are currently seven countryside Stewardship Scheme agreements covering collectively over 225 hectares Approximately 67 ha. are managed with the benefit of Organic Farming Scheme payments.

Clinics for the promotion of good quality applications under the ERDP are held regularly by the DEFRA Rural Development Service in Reading and Guildford, and have been attended recently by potential applicants from the Isle of Wight who are bringing forward new schemes for rural development.

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

Under the Market Towns Initiative a partnership development programme for the Island has recently been supported, including information and advice on Rural White Paper policies in the context of the developing Local Strategic Partnership, and the Vital Villages grant scheme run by the Countryside Agency.

The Isle of Wight is one of five areas in the South East region that has been awarded new funding under the LEADER+ programme, with European Union support, for experimental development of rural projects and community initiatives. The Local Action Group is currently preparing its plans, under the DEFRA national guidance and with local contracts at the Government Office for the region.

Back to
Forward to