THE Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says it will launch its general election campaign this week by calling on politicians from all parties to back its Rural Powerhouse initiative.

The CLA will write to every candidate in every constituency in England and Wales asking them to pledge support for the Rural Powerhouse, which is comprised of five key themes:

1. A fully connected countryside

2. A planning system designed for rural communities

3. Profitable and sustainable farming

4. Investment in skills and innovation

5. A simpler tax regime

Incoming president of the CLA, Mark Bridgeman, who farms on the Northumberland coast near Alnwick, said: “The rural economy has immense potential for economic growth and job creation, but we need the right policies to unleash it. It is 16 per cent less productive than its urban counterpart, but realising this untapped potential could grow the rural economy by billions of pounds each year”

The campaign is launched during the general election and before the CLA’s annual Rural Business Conference held in London on November 28. However, the Rural Powerhouse campaign will continue long after the December poll.

Mr Bridgeman continued: “The Rural Powerhouse is not just a campaign to last for a few weeks, with a few glossy pamphlets and press releases. It is a new approach for the Country Land and Business Association. At a time when political tensions are high, we are standing up proudly to say that we believe in the potential of the rural economy, and we are here to champion it.

“The Rural Powerhouse campaign is rooted in the belief that the countryside has an exciting future and we all have a role in shaping it. Any future MP worth their salt should proudly back the campaign.”

Rural businesses cover everything from farming to tourism, housing to energy production. Owing to their location and unique circumstances, they often have to be agile and explore opportunities across different sectors. This entrepreneurialism, though, can be hampered by a lack of investment, government support and excessive red tape.

Political candidates who support the campaign will receive regular briefings and campaign materials throughout the election period, and beyond.

Mr Bridgeman continued: “We want to build productive relationships with MPs from all parties. When supporters of the Rural Powerhouse enter Parliament in December, we will be there to help them do their jobs – whether that’s working closely with them so that they understand the needs of rural communities, or ensuring they are ready to champion our policy campaigns in the heart of Westminster.”

“They should know, as we do, that the countryside can provide answers to so many of the issues that concern ordinary people – from climate change and the environment to the housing crisis. We are ready and raring to go – and with the right political support we can realise the countryside’s huge economic and social potential.”