30 July 1998
Government drops plans for rural department

THE Government has axed plans for a separate department of rural affairs, the idea floated in response to the success of the Countryside Alliance.

It has decided that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) should not be given any extra responsibilities and that responsibility for rural development and conservation should stay with John Prescotts super-ministry.

The Government is planning to increase spending on countryside and rural programmes by one-third over the next three years – to compensate for cuts in the MAFF budget.

The increase from £128 million to £174m will be spent on nature conservation, promoting access to the countryside, increased spending on the national parks and on the creation of a national forest.

  • Financial Times 30/07/98 page 9