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Norfolk County Council reveals plan to drive the rural economy

PUBLISHED: 13:21 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:21 06 November 2017

Seagulls follow a tractor ploughing in the autumn sunshine near Brampton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Seagulls follow a tractor ploughing in the autumn sunshine near Brampton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Norfolk County Council is to unveil refreshed plans to make sure the rural economy is strongly rooted in the region – taking into account technological changes and Brexit.

Clarke Willis chairman of the Norfolk Rural Strategy Steering Group. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Clarke Willis chairman of the Norfolk Rural Strategy Steering Group. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The authority will launch its new rural strategy at Swaffham’s Green Britain Centre with an event which will bring together key stakeholders to develop an action plan for implementing proposals.

Since the original Norfolk Rural Development Strategy was published in 2013 there have been significant changes, including the UK voting to leave the EU, the introduction of the National Living Wage and rapid advances in technology.

To respond to these, the Norfolk Rural Strategy Steering Group commissioned a refresh of the 2013 strategy to identify the priority areas on which the Norfolk rural community needs to focus between now and 2020.

Cliff Jordan, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “This revised strategy will help us respond to the significant opportunities and challenges of the next few years in order to strengthen our rural economy.

“In particular, the funding landscape for farming, the environment and rural development is changing and the strategy underlines the need to make the case for continued investment in rural areas.”

Mr Jordan will be speaking at the String Roots: New Growth event on Friday.

Among the priorities of the steering group are to lobby for support, embrace digitalisation, maintain the region’s natural landscapes and use them to attract visitors, improve the competitiveness of the agri-food sector and enable growth.

Clarke Willis, chairman of the Norfolk Rural Strategy Steering Group, said: “If we are to deliver new environmental programmes, embrace the potential of technology, improve agri-food competitiveness or find new ways to deliver modern infrastructure, we will all have to learn new skills. Upskilling our existing workforce and making rural areas attractive to highly skilled young people is therefore essential if these areas are to fulfil their potential.

“The success of the strategy depends on action by businesses and local communities, with the public sector playing a supportive and enabling role.”

The full strategy is available on Norfolk County Council’s website at www.norfolk.gov.uk/ruralstrategy

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