A NEW campaign aimed at winning the hearts and minds of everybody who loves the countryside – whether for economic, environmental or social reasons – was launched at the Devon County Show yesterday, Thursday, May 18, by the national President of the Countryside Landowners’ Association (CLA), Ross Murray.
Speaking at a CLA breakfast on the first morning of the show, Mr Murray explained that the campaign message is simple – it is that the countryside matters and its success matters to everyone.
He added: “We want to unite people who love the countryside and believe it should remain a vital national priority.
"It provides us with a large proportion of our food and water; it cleans the air we breathe and sustains a rich diversity of wildlife and we want to gather a groundswell of public opinion in the run up to the General Election; on the road to Brexit - and beyond - to persuade MP’s, Ministers and the Government that investment in the countryside is money well spent.
The organisation, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, says "The Countryside Matters" campaign will aim to provide people with information about the important benefits delivered by a working countryside - from supplying affordable and nutritious food through to maintaining habitats for wildlife and providing facilities for storing and cleaning water.
Mr Murray added: “The British countryside is the eighth wonder of the world and the envy of many. It brings benefits to every person who lives in, works in, walks in or simply enjoys visiting our countryside.
“But there is risk once the UK leaves the EU and it is vital that the next Government grasps the fact that it needs to treat farming, the rural economy and our landscapes as a public investment priority. Money can be spent in new ways to deliver better outcomes for the economy and the environment.
“If you believe in a vibrant, living and working countryside then you believe the countryside matters. This is why we are launching this campaign to highlight the reasons why the countryside should be a government priority, that it is worth investment and that the return on that investment benefits everyone.”
Throughout the summer the CLA will be talking to politicians and other opinion leaders to press home “The Countryside Matters” message.
It says this face-to-face contact will be supported by new research into what people want from their countryside and how that can be delivered in innovative and cost-effective ways.
The CLA is asking the public to get behind the campaign to ensure everyone can continue to enjoy the countryside, see its economy thrive and its communities prosper.
To support the call for continued investment in the countryside, sign up at: www.thecountrysidematters.org , back the campaign on Twitter @clatweets and tweet why the countryside matters to you using the hashtag #thecountrysidematters .