THE Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has launched its general election campaign calling on politicians from all parties to back its Rural Powerhouse initiative.

It is writing to every candidate asking them pledge their support to the initiative which calls for a fully connected countryside; a planning system designed for rural communities; profitable and sustainable farming; investment in skills and innovation; and a simpler tax regime,

Mark Bridgeman, who farms on the coast near Alnwick and who yesterday (14th) became the CLA president, 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 long term. Mr Bridgeman said: "It is a new approach for the CLA. 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 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."

The CLA said 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 - but they can be hampered by a lack of investment, government support and excessive red tape.

Mr Bridgeman said: "We want to build productive relationships with MPs from all parties. When supporters of the Rural Powerhouse enter Parliament 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."