The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Commons Select Committee is running a consultation on ‘the role of tourism supporting rural growth in England.‘ The inquiry will look into a number of matters relating to supporting rural growth. You can find out more about the scope of the enquiry by visiting the Commons Select Committee website.PRDL Licence areas across the north of England
Introducing the survey, the Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, says:
“Tourism in rural areas creates job opportunities and supports the economic viability of communities. At a time in which volatile agricultural prices and depopulation threaten businesses and rural services, we are asking how effectively public programmes and government policies support these areas to stay competitive in a global industry. We will also be asking how we can work to make the growth of countryside and coastal tourism sustainable, balancing economic, social and environmental interests.”
The consultation was opened on 8th July and the deadline for submissions is Tuesday 6th September. The website does not say at what time on that day the deadline closes, so best to get your submissions in before that date if you can.
Who is allowed to respond to this consultation?
The consultation is open to both individuals and organisations, such as Town, District and Parish Councils, environmental groups, trade associations, trade unions, businesses – so basically anyone, really! Also, you do not have to live in the countryside to respond – anyone with an interested in rural matters can make a submission. And of course as town and city dwellers are the very people who go on holiday in the English countryside, they have as much stake in protecting and preserving the rural areas as those who live there.
Does the enquiry mention fracking at all?
No, it doesn’t – which is why we are encouraging everyone who is concerned about the effect of fracking on the rural economy to respond to the consultation. If the EFRA Committee receive thousands of submissions from business, councils, charities and individuals warning them of the grave threat that fracking poses to rural tourism in England – and of course the rest of the UK – the committee will have to include these comments in their conclusions.
Hang on a minute. Didn’t Defra already do a report on the effect of shale gas on the rural economy? Yes, it did. It was called the Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts Paper. However, its conclusions were very damaging to the shale gas industry and the report was supressed, then released with 63 redactions, then finally released in full on the order of the Information Commissioner after a public outcry. Defra did their best to rubbish the findings, saying the report was only an ‘early draft’, was not ‘analytically robust’ and that work on the report had been discontinued. You can read the full story of this notorious report here.
Surely if Defra thought the report wasn’t done properly, they should have commissioned someone else to do a proper final draft, not just discontinue it?
Good point. It’s almost as if they actually knew the draft report was actually quite accurate, and they were ordered to bury its conclusions. So, as part of our suggested submission – see below – we are asking Defra to commission a new, independent report, and we are demanding a moratorium on fracking until that has been done. How can Defra support fracking in rural areas when they still haven’t produced a final report on its potential impacts, including on rural tourism.
That sounds reasonable. What sort of things are the EFRA Committee asking people to comment on this time?
The consultation is fairly open-ended and does not have specific boxes for each question, or multiple choice answers or anything like that. All submissions need to be made on a Word document. What they do offer, however, are some guidelines on areas that the committee is interested in. These can be found on the Commons Select Committee website under the heading Terms of Reference, and are summarised below.
Pennsylvania now has over 10,000 fracking wells.
In general, the inquiry looks into a number of matters relating to supporting rural growth, in particular how government policies can:
Encourage more people, both from the UK and abroad, to visit more of England’s rural places, for longer and at all times of the year;
Support farmers and rural residents to diversify into tourism and grow their businesses;
Ensure visitors’ experiences are balanced with the need to preserve the environment and the character of local communities.
This is followed by a number of key questions on the following topics – Marketing, Access, Funding and fiscal policies, Planning and regulation, Infrastructure and skills, Local environment and characterand the Defra role in supporting rural tourism. Again, click here to find out exactly what the EFRA Committee’s key questions are in these areas. If you are a rural business, you may well have things to say on all these topics.
How and where do I respond to this consultation?
To send in a response to the consultation, you need to visit this page: Rural Tourism in England – written submission form.
The first thing you have to do, under the Your Details section, is to say whether you are submitting as an individual or as part of an organisation. NOTE – on some browsers this form comes out a bit wonky, and the circle you need to click on to show that you are submitting on behalf of an organisation is off to the right, by the first question mark, not in front of the phrase ‘part of an organisation’.
Tens of thousands of HGV trucks are destined for country roads if fracking takes Tens of thousands of HGV trucks are destined for country roads if fracking takes hold in the UK
When you’ve done that, fill in the details on the form as requested.
Then you have to attach a Word document with your comments. Note that they will only accept Word documents , not other forms of submission [i.e. .doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt .ooxml or .odt format, not PDFs, etc]. No idea why, but that’s what it says. We’ll come to what you can include on that crucial Word document in a minute.
Then, add any additional information if you wish in the box below, tick the confirmation box at the bottom, then click SEND.
Hmm, I’m going to need a bit of help with what to say. Any ideas?
We’re so glad you asked. Our dedicated, hard-working and unpaid team here at FFR have prepared a template Word document for you to base your submission on. There may, of course, be many other things that respondents wish to say about rural tourism, which you can also include in your submission. And here it is …
EFRA RURAL TOURISM IN ENGLAND ENQUIRY – RESPONSE
Please download the above Word document and follow the instructions in red. You can quickly go through it and use the wording suggested, which will take you about five minutes, or you can customise it as much as you like.
Fracking well-pads – coming to a tourist destination near you?
If you can, please personalise your response, either by talking about the impact of fracking on your own rural business, the area you live in, where you spend your weekends or holidays, or add any other information you want to include. Also, if you have time, please add web links to reports, articles, papers, or any other supporting evidence you wish. The Efra Committee are duty bound to read anything they are sent.
If you would prefer to do your own submission from scratch, then please do so. The more variety of opinions they receive, the better. Before you start, though, be aware that submissions should not be more than 3,000 word in length, and you might also want to take a look at the House of Commons Select Committee’s Written Submission Guidelines. You might also like to download the abovc Word document to give you some ideas of what to say first.
OK, thanks. Where do I send the finished document again?
Go to the Written Submission Form page on the Commons Select Committee website and follow the instructions. And then use URL or the social media tools below and send a link to this page to everyone you know, asking them to do the same thing. We want to generate thousands of responses, to show the committee that fracking is completely incompatible with developing sustainable tourism in rural areas.
Thanks for helping!