Rural hoardings set to be next flashpoint

18 August 2000

Rural hoardings set to be next flashpoint

FARMERS and conservationists appear to be on another collision course, this time over the issue of advertising hoardings in rural areas.

The NFU has urged its members to play their part in the promotion of British food by erecting 3m wide temporary banners on land next to roads and motorways. More than 200 of the banners displaying the British Food Standard tractor logo have been distributed to farmers, and NFU county chairman have been asked to identify suitable sites to show them off.

The most prominent site is likely to be on a farm bridge over the M40 close to Banbury. According to the AA, that banner is likely to be seen by about 100,000 people a day. NFU deputy president, Tim Bennett, said: "Farmers are in the unique situation of having prominent advertising space in their backyards at their disposal. The onus is on the farming industry to make sure shoppers recognise the logo."

But the issue of billboards in the countryside is a hot topic. Under current regulations a council can restrict billboards by declaring any site an "Area of Special Control Advertising". But under proposed legislation, councils will only be able to apply this designation to national parks, Areas of Outstanding Beauty, conservation areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Neil Sidden, head of planning at the Council for the Protection of Rural England, said posters would blight the countryside if the advertising rules were relaxed. And he urged the NFU to pursue its campaign with sensitivity. "We have every sympathy with farmers [but] they could do themselves a disservice if it has an intrusive effect on the countryside. It could well backfire." &#42

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