The Earl of Leicester elected as Norfolk chairman of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

The 8th Earl of Leicester, at the Holkham Estate.

The 8th Earl of Leicester, at the Holkham Estate. - Credit: Holkham Estate

The Earl of Leicester said tackling countryside issues arising from Brexit will be among his top priorities after being given a key role representing the interests of Norfolk's rural businesses.

The owner of the Holkham Estate has been elected for a two-year term as chairman of the Norfolk branch of the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) – a role which aims to influence policy-making decisions and ensure regional concerns are heard at a national level.

He said: 'I am delighted to have been elected as the new chairman for Norfolk and look forward to working with committee colleagues to promote the work of the CLA and tackle some of the issues faced by rural communities in the county, particularly at this time as the country negotiates Brexit, and what that might mean for the rural community and countryside.

'Norfolk is a beautiful rural county that is blessed with many extremely talented and entrepreneurial business men and women. I am a strong advocate of those living and working in Norfolk and am proud to represent their views through my role with the CLA.'

Lord Leicester, 52, has been actively involved in managing Holkham Hall and Estate since 1993, when he left the army after a six-year spell with the Scots Guards. Since then, he has overseen the diversification of the estate away from its traditional dependence on agriculture and towards leisure, tourism and property development.

In 1996, 70pc of Holkham's income was derived from agriculture and the land but, while the revenue from farming has continued to increase, the percentage has reduced to around 25pc, as businesses such as Holkham Property Company, Pinewoods Holiday Park and The Victoria Inn have grown.

CLA East regional director Ben Underwood said: 'Lord Leicester brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his new CLA role which will further strengthen the voice of those living and working in rural communities in Norfolk.'

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Lord Leicester was educated at Eton College and gained an Honours degree in History of Art from the University of Manchester.

He is married with four children, and lists his interests as including 'the great outdoors', especially cycling and running, skiing, heritage, forestry, conservation and country sports.

Alongside his new role Lord Leicester will continue to sit on the CLA's national committees, chairing the Wildlife Estates group, a European landowners' initiative, and the Forestry Committee.