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NFU Attacks Threat To Traditional Rural Events

Traditional events like the village fête, farmers' markets and gymkhanas could be a thing of the past if Government decides that they need full planning permission, the NFU has warned.

The NFU has attacked proposals in a DTLR consultation document to limit or do away with temporary permission for infrequent local events like shows or food fairs and outdoor pursuits like paint-balling or clay pigeon shooting.

In its response to the consultation, the NFU describes such rural events - conditionally permitted without planning permission on 14 or 28 days a year - as a vital part of rural and urban life and an important source of revenue for farmers.

Its submission says: "Many farmers have over decades provided venues for village activities in this way. They have also come to rely on events like farmers' markets for the survival of the farm business.

"There is a deep concern within the farming community about the social and economic implications of any changes to the current arrangements and the consequent harm to the rural economy at a time when recovery and regeneration are vitally important."

The NFU goes on to criticise the quality of the research used by the DTLR, which it says is limited and based upon perception and anecdotal evidence. The report did not include data from rural stakeholders or sports and recreational groups and attracted only a limited response from planning authorities.

NFU Planning Chairman John Seymour said: "The current arrangements strike an appropriate balance between the freedom to use land for a strictly temporary period of time for events that have sometimes taken place for many decades and without having caused any problems in the vast majority of cases."

The NFU submission - submitted yesterday - goes on to say that better local enforcement would ensure existing controls were more effective, while not creating additional workload for planning departments.

John Seymour added: "We are extremely concerned that community events basically held on high days and holidays will be abandoned if this planning obstacle is put in their way."




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Updated: October 2005.