Policy issues in rural areas : an examination with special reference to Cumbria
This thesis develops the requirements of the Cumbria Division of the MAFF to have detailed information on a number of rural topics of particular concern to the area's socia-economic advisory service. Information was generated upon the effects of road developments upon agriculture; the possibility of economic and employment growth through tourism, industry, forestry and agriculture; and upon their relationship with conservation and development control issues generally. A working conference was organised (The Whitbarrow Exercise) to review in specific terms a number of the above problems, in which representatives of the major groups active in rural policy formulation and implementation participated. The study was extended to consider these policy issues on a more prosperous agricultural estate; and in the county of Cumbria as a whole. An examination of the development and likely future impact of agricultural policy upon rural policy generally was also undertaken. All the research was set in the context of an extensive literature review. The results indicate that while state intervention to relieve those problems collectively known as rural deprivation still has an important place in modern rural policy, the scope for such intervention to be successful is limited. Opportunities for employment and wealth creation through tourism, forestry, industry and agriculture are limited for social and economic reasons; developments in these sectors can have adverse effects upon the environment; can compound existing problems; and are often resisted by local people. The lack of success of such ventures indicates continued structural change within rural communities, with some adverse effects for the less privileged members. Recognising this it is argued that fural policy seeks to adapt to, rather than attempt to fundamentally alter inevitable change, recognising that in the long term social and structural problems will resolve themselves. It is further argued that a reduction in state support for agriculture appears inevitable, and this can bring considerable conservation benefits, even in upland areas where positive links between agriculture and conservation have been found by some commentators. It is also argued that for social and economic reasons, and because of the declining importance of agricultural land, a vigorous landscape and ecological conservation policy is pursued by planning authorities and is reasonable. With regard to road developments on agricultural land, the research has shawn that although it is the norm far the agricultural community to experience severe difficulty during developments, these can be overcame by increasing the resources of professional expertise available to affected farmers. This indicates a possible important increased role for the MAFF in the development process.