We were delighted to be speaking at An Evening with Burges Salmon on 9 October 2023, organised by Surveyors RECAP, a non-profit organisation expanding the knowledge of rural professionals (www.suveyorsrecap.co.uk) and hosted at a very welcoming Harper Adams University.
We took the opportunity to poll the attendees, all of them rural professionals with varying backgrounds of practice, experience and firms. This gave us a good sample size of 50 people.
The polling has produced some interesting results, giving a snapshot as to how a group of rural professionals thought about particular questions put to them, and over three posts we’ll share the polling, with some thoughts. We hope you find them of interest.
Part 1: The Big Picture
These three questions looked at rural issues from a wide perspective, aiming to see what was felt about some of the macro issues facing the sector:
This is always an interesting question to ask, and it goes to the heart of some of the issues relating to rural land – what should have priority? There was a very clear majority in favour of food production, and that response surely chimes with the views of many farmers.
Was there a locational issue at play influencing the balance of the responses, and would the overall response has been markedly different if we had carried out the poll in Lincolnshire, or Southeast England?
A lot is said about the impact of regulations on rural land. What did the room think of the drivers for those regulations?
In stark contrast with the Food Production results above, there was a clear view that it is carbon equivalent emissions that will be driving regulations, followed a fair way behind by water quality issues.
Look at biodiversity and soil quality, both of which are bit players on this poll. That may surprise many, especially given how the level of debate around BNG has dominated talk of the green use of land over the last year.
And look at the 0% for Health & Safety. Given the record of the sector in this area, should be be concerned by this, or does it suggest that an established safety culture is becoming embedded?
Rural land is not just a series of farms, or big houses, but communities:
Rural communities face issues like every other and the instinctive view of many is that the availability of rural housing is a real problem. That holds up as far as the poll is concerned, and must factor into the wider debate about the ability to build houses, and at a scale that can meet the demand of them, and in the areas where they are needed. Notice also the friction between this result and the first result above, where Housing and Infrastructure played a quiet second fiddle to Food Production as the most important use of land.
After several years in which road quality has appears to decline, perhaps it is no surprise that that Transport Infrastructure and Road Quality occupies second place.
Look at the lower result, 6% for Telecoms and Internet, and 0% for Education. Does this tell us that these issues are perhaps not the problems they once were?
In Part 2 next week, we'll look at the results for Farming and Diversification.