CLA unveils millennium project: £13.5m sought

31 January 1997

CLA unveils millennium project: £13.5m sought

By Tony McDougal

LANDOWNERS have unveiled a £13.5m Millennium Commission educational project, which aims to provide a greater understanding of the countryside through a series of high-tech resource centres.

The Country Landowners Association revealed that its Living Land project will be based on part of the 1.6ha (4-acre) Southwark Borough Market and involve five regional centres around the country.

Although the CLA has yet to attract funding, it hopes to obtain 50% of the cash from the Millennium Commission with the rest coming from CLA members, other partners and European Commission grant aid. Among the possible partners are English Heritage, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and theNFU.

Hugh Duberly, past CLA president and project chairman, said the centres would provide information services, general advice on rural issues, grants, loans and investment advice to businesses, education material, Internet and satellite links along with a nationwide countryside database.

While the CLA has yet to identify all six of the centres, one of them will be on the edge of the Royal Agricultural Showground at Stoneleigh Stables, while another will be on the outskirts of Exeter.

Ewen Cameron, CLA president, said he hoped the centres would be used as an educational tool for schools: "I havehad parties of schoolchildren onmy farm who did not knowthat potatoes grow in fields."

Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, chairman of the NFUs millennium working party, praised the project, but would not commit any financial support. "I think it is a thoroughly well thought out project with the right ethic to educate people. But we are in the process of looking at eight or nine schemes with a much more local flavour."

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