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Rural investment required to drive economic recovery

Key rural leaders, including Peter Kendall, President of the National Farmers Union, will gather in Cirencester this month to present at the RICS National Rural Conference which will address the burning question “rural renaissance - fact or fiction?”

farm land

Farmland prices reached record levels during the second half of 2012

With Government focus squarely on economic recovery, RICS believes that investment in non-urban areas remains an untapped key factor in economic recovery. In fact, businesses across rural England alone account for the same economic potential as England’s eight core cities combined. Through appropriate investment in a range of rural businesses the rural economy can be at the forefront of the UK’s economic renaissance.

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of UK Policy, said:

“Further investment and support for the rural sector could have a huge impact on the financial position of the UK. Despite challenging conditions on a number of fronts, the value of agricultural land continues to rise, and increasing emphasis on a wider range of outputs from land can help to ensure a more sustainable and diverse rural market.  Beyond agriculture, from renewable energy to the expansion of broadband, it is essential the right government policies are in place to support these business developments in rural areas.”

According to RICS, policies aimed at encouraging both investment and viable, speculative development need to be accompanied by a reduction in the barriers found within government red tape and planning legislation. The policies should of course also reflect the differential impacts of finance and taxation measures on rural communities.

Jeremy Blackburn continues: “In the short term, change of use for agricultural buildings should make a difference and a cut in VAT on renovation, refurbishment and repair works would make a real impact. However, in order to fully capitalise on the rural market, deeper issues relating to legislation and planning need to be tackled.”

According to the most recent RICS Rural Market Survey, demand for commercial farmland remained high in the second half of 2012, with farmland prices reaching £8,250 an acre, an increase of two percent on prices for the first half of 2012. Surveyors believed that 2013 would continue to see strong interest from commercial farmers keen to expand production. Teamed with the growth of the communications framework and renewable investment across the country, the commercial significance is vast and it is imperative that the industry and Government respond accordingly.

The RICS National Rural Conference takes places at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester on 20 June 2013. Together with industry experts, the conference will engage in discussion and debate on key and emerging issues relating to the rural economy in the UK. Topics ranging from valuation, renewable energy, planning, economic overview of agricultural sectors, transport, telecoms and the green deal plus others will all be covered on the day.

Full details of the conference be found here:

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