Minister briefed on farming and rural matters

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KEY representatives of a rural organisation briefed Environment Minister Richard Benyon during his visit to Northumberland.

After discussing the Morpeth flood alleviation scheme, the minister travelled to the Ridley Arms in Stannington to find out how the North Eastern Farming and Rural Advisory Network (NEFRAN) is progressing.

Although in its infancy, the organisation has already successfully co-ordinated a bid on behalf of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership for funding to create a network of rural growth hubs to help to stimulate economic activity in rural areas.

Chaired by Country Land and Business Association (CLA) North East Committee member Anthony Braithwaite, the network also aims to overcome barriers such as lack of suitable premises and poor infrastructure, notably super-fast broadband and mobile networks.

CLA North East Committee Chairman Alistair Cochrane said: “The meeting was an excellent opportunity to lobby the minister about issues important to CLA members.

“I was pleased that he appeared to welcome the establishment of NEFRAN as a basis for effective two way communication between Defra ministers and broad rural interests in different parts of the country, and to ensure that important rural affairs and food and farming issues are properly relayed to national policy makers.”