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Environment and Rural: the National Picture

Government Offices promote sustainable development, protect the environment and help rural areas. We make sure the policies of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are implemented and properly integrated with the work of other Government departments.

A good environment is central to the quality of life and success of both urban and rural areas. This means that the Government must work to protect and improve the environment. A key part of delivering this strategy is ‘sustainable development’ – that is, making sure what we do today to produce what we need doesn’t compromise the ability of future generations to do the same.

Rural areas face some specific challenges. It is important to ensure their economies thrive and that their public services are delivered effectively. This must be done in a way that respects the needs of communities, yet ensures that the landscapes and environment are protected for us all.

The specific tasks carried out by Government Offices to support these objectives include:

  • promoting effective policies for rural areas, as outlined in the Government’s ‘Rural Strategy 2004’
  • implementing the Government’s ‘Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food’ in each region
  • ensuring that rural communities and their key stakeholders have an effective voice in regional rural policy-making and can influence national policy, through supporting regional Rural Affairs Forums – the Government Offices are the secretariat for the forums, which bring together representatives from rural communities, businesses, service providers and local authorities.
  • promoting sustainable development with local partners
  • supporting local authorities and others to improve recycling and waste reduction
  • promoting greater energy efficiency and a secure, low carbon energy mix for the longer term 
  • representing the region’s views on a wide range of environmental and rural policy issues to Defra and other government departments

In London there is obviously a greater emphasis on sustainable development, including coordinating strategic regional advisory groups on waste; understanding the implications of climate change and developing a response strategy for the capital city, and ensuring London takes steps to meet national and European targets on air quality.

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