Commenting on the Countryside Agency's report into Rural Proofing of Government policy, published today, Sir Edward Greenwell, President of the Country Land and Business Association said:

"We congratulate the Countryside Agency on their honest and hard hitting report into the rural proofing of Government policy by Whitehall departments. Progress has started along the right lines but it is quite apparent that most departments have done little more than reach a minimal baseline and are not yet making rural considerations an integral part of policy making. It goes without saying that the real work is yet to be done.

"No-one can be in any doubt now about how significant a role the countryside plays in the economic well-being of the UK and so the real questions will come next year when we shall assess whether any of the lessons of FMD have been absorbed and applied to key areas of Government policy, such as the 2002 Spending Review, and consequently whether this Government is to be taken seriously on rural issues.

"The Countryside's 14 million population and half a million businesses are watching with interest." -ends-

For further information please contact Richard Bailey or Pippa Kidson Trigg on 020 7460 7935 or mobiles 07714 756215 / 07889 912881