4 April 1997

Rural groups to co-operate

MOVES to reduce duplication of work and save money have led the Countryside Commission and the Rural Development Commission to sign a co-operation contract for joint working in selected fields.

Areas where the two organisations plan to work together include planning and design, sustainable development, rural transport, tourism and recreation and rural action.

Richard Wakeford, Countryside Commission chief executive, said it was important there was no duplication of resources: "We dont want to have an overlap of work, but it will be up to any future government to go any further.

"If past mergers are anything to go by, they tend to be a major distraction and create uncertainty," he added.

Brian McLaughlin, NFU head of environment and land use, said that while the drive towards sustainable development would bring the two organisations agendas closer together, a merger was unlikely in the short term.

"A new government may think about it, but it would not be in the top five of their proposals."n