Wales needs a strategy and body devoted to growing the rural economy: forming a plan of action, seizing opportunities, removing obstacles, but above all, one which applies the versatility and speed of the private sector.
This was a leading conclusion of a Senedd Members inquiry into the state of the Welsh rural economy last week (24 January).
Speaking about the launch, Samuel Kurtz MS said:
“As Chair of the Senedd Cross Party Group (CPG) on Rural Growth, I launched this inquiry at a critical time: post-Brexit, post-pandemic, during a cost-of-living crisis, and as we look ahead to meeting new societal goals in tackling climate change and improving public health and welfare”
The first of four inquiry sessions, representatives from the three main political parties in the Senedd heard evidence from 4 expert witnesses: Nick Tune, National Infrastructure Commissioner, Professor Terry Marsden from Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning, Ian Price Director CBI Wales, and the CLA’s Senior Economist, Dr Charles Trotman.
Samuel Kurtz added: “New technology, new ways of working, focus on sustainability and health and wellbeing all offer opportunity to rural communities. However we do have challenges to overcome in skills development, transport and energy infrastructure.
"The Inquiry also discussed the need for a dedicated rural development organisation that can be a driving-force for constructive change. In March the Inquiry will focus on rural housing and the critical role played by the planning system. Both national and local government have vital roles to play here.
"Further sessions will examine food-production and the supply chain, farm-diversification and rural tourism. The inquiry will conclude with a report to be presented outlining clear recommendations to government that will be launch in the Autumn”