Politicians at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week queued up to emphasise their commitment to the countryside and their support of country sports.

In her keynote speech, DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman said the Government wanted to promote a ?rural renaissance?.

She said: ?For far too long the economy of this country has been unbalanced ? not just ?north-south?, but ?rural-urban?. It?s one of the factors that?s brought us to where we are today, and we need to fix it.?

Mrs Spelman said that one of her department?s immediate priorities was to reconnect the countryside with the Government, while generating economic growth.

She commented: ?We?re refocusing grants and funding streams so that they actively promote new kinds of rural enterprise.

?For our countryside to flourish, it has to be a thriving and prosperous part of the economic recovery. That?s vital to sustaining the services and quality of life that rural communities need.?

The rest of this article appears in the 12th October issue of Shooting Times.

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