The Centre for Cross Border Studies (CCBS) is supportive of the need for change in line with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s aspirations (as outlined at Para 4.8). We strongly endorse the decision taken on behalf of the Department to put rural proofing on a statutory footing. Moreover, CCBS considers this proposed legislation to be a constructive development towards ensuring the effective implementation of rural proofing across all Executive Departments, local Councils and non-departmental public bodies.
Evidence provided by rural stakeholders points to a growing concern that existing practices of rural proofing have consistently failed to deliver for rural communities. We maintain that existing rural proofing practices have proven unsuccessful due to a lack of due attention given by policy makers within other Departments and a failure on the part of other Departments, local councils and non-departmental public bodies to recognise that rural issues extend beyond the remit of DARD. CCBS further welcomes any legislation which helps address the needs of rural communities, particularly rural populations in the border region, who face unique challenges as regards to access to public services, infrastructure provision, rural and urban connectivity, business growth and unemployment.
Tackling these challenges and delivering outcomes for rural communities requires fundamentally effective rural proofing to ensure that their specific needs are considered during policy-making processes and to provide that any adverse impacts upon rural areas are effectively mitigated, thereby improving the quality of life for rural citizens.
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