Rural policy after Brexit Summary

Rural policy after Brexit


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This report is a think piece produced by the Welsh Government in collaboration with stakeholder groups to inform ongoing policy progress. It combines evidence on the state of agriculture and rural areas in Wales with current knowledge of the Brexit process’s phases, pacing, and possible outcomes, defining consequences and potential goals. Some farms and sectors face much more significant obstacles than others, implying an uneven structural change in critical areas: – sheep farming is likely to lose its economic viability.

As these farm businesses are particularly vulnerable to changes in both market access structures and public funding support, this may put additional strain on rural services; – as a result, north and west Wales are more likely to suffer negative consequences than the south and east, where more potentially positive and diverse impacts can be expected among dairy, horticultural, mixed, and other farm types; – as a result, north and west Wales are more likely to suffer negative consequences than the south and east, where more potentially positive and diverse impacts can be expected among dairy thus avoiding adverse effects on natural resources, landscape quality, and community identification.

Three policy options are suggested: Supporting efficient adaptation, increased productivity, diversification, adding value, and intergenerational transition in farm and other land management businesses.


The agriculture sector and rural areas in Wales face significant challenges and opportunities due to the UK’s exit from the EU (Lever, 2014). To meet the challenges and seize the opportunities, the Welsh Government has urged all rural actors and stakeholders to collaborate to realize its shared vision outlined in recent policies and strategies.

Impacts on planning policy and practice

Ministers were initially overwhelmed by all the headless chickens running amok, so put on the Government’s grand plans to shake up the planning system hold. Now that heads have been screwed back on, the Government is far more focused on the vexing problem of improving the British economy than it was before Brexit. There is widespread agreement that more housing is needed (Holmans, 2015). When it comes to where and what, Teresa May’s Government released its recommendations in a Housing White Paper on February 7, 2017, which includes suggested improvements to the National Planning Policy Framework will finalize reforms in the autumn of 2017, and their trajectory is worth remembering.

A not-so-surprising consensus is that the nation needs more elderly accommodation. As the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to rise exponentially, warnings of a demographic time bomb have become a slow-motion blast. A variety of properties, especially one and two-bedroom apartments near bus stops and amenities, are required to meet this demand. With a large sum of home equity in the hands of the elderly, the grey pound is worth a bob or two. They need well-designed housing (think wheelchair-accessible), light and airy for people who spend most of their time at home, warm and straightforward to maintain. Planning policy is shifting to embrace a national push to build more of this form of housing, which is excellent news for those who want to get involved.

The Government, which has backed away from any fights over the Green Belt, now has enough battlegrounds. Now is not the time to gamble on a new build on a Green Belt property. Brownfield land is making a comeback. The Government has stated that the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, scheduled to be released in autumn 2017, would promote brownfield growth. This reflects a slight improvement to the cynical. For optimists, this means that the planning system can help renovations and redevelopments. However, it should avoid any heritage problems. The planning framework provides robust security to “heritage properties,” which are sadly not limited to those that have been described or listed previously.

A council may declare any building, especially pre-World War II structures, to be a “non-designated heritage asset” or one that “contributes to the character of a city.” This can quickly derail a renovation project, so keep this in mind when looking for a place to buy. If in doubt, believe that the Council would want to preserve some “heritage value” and seek guidance from a planner on how to proceed. Overall, the Government aims to promote housing construction, focusing on brownfield sites and satisfying the increasing demand for smaller homes. It would be easier to obtain planning approval if you can turn the tide in your favor rather than against you.

Critical points for future discussion

  1. Defining specific scenarios that can propose impacts and consequences by summarizing ‘best estimates’ of the possible process and shape of Brexit.
  2. Examining the current state of Welsh rural areas in terms of agricultural, environmental, and socio-economic elements and the role of current policies in shaping these and their interconnections.

3. Considering the impact of the ‘most probable’ Brexit scenarios on these properties and relationships.

4. Identifying critical ingredients for a potential rural Wales plan can achieve its main overarching objectives despite the expected scenario impacts.



               Article 50, once activated, gives the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal from the European Union. These talks will aim to reach an agreement outlining the UK’s future relationship with the EU; this does not necessarily mean negotiating new trade agreements with the EU or individual member states. Unless all member states agree to extend the negotiation period, the UK’s membership in the EU will end if no agreement is reached within the two years. The UK is likely to negotiate new trade agreements, but as we’ve seen in recent days, the remaining EU members are hesitant to start such talks until Article 50 has been triggered.

Standard Agricultural Policy (“CAP”)

There will be no immediate effect on the Popular Agricultural Policy (“CAP”) until the formal withdrawal process is completed (Defra, 2005). The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will no longer apply to the farming sector in the United Kingdom until it is completed. Regardless of the referendum outcome, the new regime is set to expire in 2020, and it is hoped that it will not change the CAP budget until then. CAP is currently on a sliding scale, and many recipients see their payments decrease year after year under the new Basic Payment Scheme. Following Brexit, the UK government will be responsible for ensuring a viable and sustainable agricultural market, which is likely to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, setting the budget and conditions for any potential subsidy scheme.

Free movement of workers

The free movement of jobs between the EU and the United Kingdom would also be a hot issue. Free movement is seen as a path to free trade by many in the EU, and it will be critical in those negotiations. In the United Kingdom, there is currently legislation in place that enables agricultural, hospitality, and other industries to benefit from seasonal labor. Given the comments made during EU member state meetings this week in Brussels, it is expected that any free trade agreement with the UK would entail free movement of staff. Staff from other EU countries currently in the UK are likely to be allowed to stay with no visa implications for the time being if we can reach a trade agreement that excludes free movement, point structures similar to those used in Australia, or my implement the United States of America in the future.

Health and Safety

Most of the health and safety legislation, such as workplace safety and the use of hazardous chemicals, is based on EU regulations. Although it is unlikely to review these thoroughly, new regulations will be required to safeguard the current situation. Although the outcome was surprising for many, and it seemed at first that there would be a prolonged period of confusion, the market drop has gradually reversed, and, according to several lenders and rural agents, the world continues to turn for the time being. It is very much business as usual.

Local government proceedings

The European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, European Territorial Cooperation, the Rural Development Fund, and almost all other EU funding programs, such as Horizon 2020, were all agreed to continue participation in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) as part of the recent phase one negotiations on leaving the EU. As a result of this arrangement, local municipalities will continue to receive EU funds until the existing scheme ended in 2020. This is a successful but temporary solution. Now is the time for clarification on the timeline after 2020. As part of a locally-led successor to EU regional assistance, funding levels for local communities should be assured starting in 2021. Otherwise, the program will enter another phase of instability.

The Government promised to establish a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the money that local governments currently receive from the European Union. The LGA is developing design and delivery principles for this fund that will give local governments much more control over how money is spent and allow them to meet the industrial strategy’s goals. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should: be at least equal in value to the current total amount of EU structural funding for the 2014-2020 cycle, optimize convergence with other funding sources for local development, and be easier to access and manage than current EU funds, according to our fundamental principles, provide an incentive for new and improved structures that are more versatile and sensitive to local needs in all types of regions, with a more straightforward and proportionate approach to financial management.

While tangible progress has been made, there is still much more work to be done before calling it a success. We need to avoid the same uncertainties and delays that have plagued this program in the past. Most of the discussion about the effect of Brexit on local Government has centered on EU support, which is understandable. However, there is a slew of other factors that will affect how local governments operate after leaving the EU. For example, the LGA recently stated that the UK’s exit from the EU provided an opportunity to strengthen existing food labeling legislation. We could help people make better decisions by making traffic light labeling on food and drink mandatory after Brexit. This will aid in combating the nation’s obesity epidemic.

Some laws and regulations must be followed with any positive change we may make. That is why the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, has compiled a list of issues that concern local Government, some of which may be improved after Brexit and some that must not lose. Aside from the UK prosperity fund, the Government must discuss a slew of crucial issues in the Brexit talks, including what will replace the Committee of the Regions, how to uphold 2010 air quality standards legislation, and whether we can simplify procurement rules that currently regulate most of the local government work.

Air quality is essential for our health and quality of life, as well as for the environment. Since air pollution is related to 40,000 premature deaths in the UK per year, the UK goal must be as ambitious as the EU’s. Meanwhile, reforming procurement laws will reduce red tape, allowing councils to spend more time and resources in their neighborhoods. It could also encourage more Small and Medium Enterprises to apply for funding, as the difficulty of the process has previously deterred many. Changes to state aid laws will be linked to this, allowing for further spending in the city. Also, small grants currently entail high administrative costs, which discourage investment.

The LGA would like to see the small aid grant threshold raised, allowing small companies, charities, and charitable organizations to receive further funding (Morgan, 2017). The list of examples is by no means complete. However, show how Brexit will affect local Government and the people we serve, both in terms of opportunities and costs. The LGA has lobbied the Government on all of these issues and more. We will continue to keep them accountable during the Brexit talks to ensure that our local people get the best deal possible.

Contemporary relevance

Brexit has exposed deep historical misperceptions between the United Kingdom and its European neighbors; Brexit, in this sense, is a phase of removing dusty historical delusions about national paths and those of neighbors. Second, too many of today’s Brexit debates are based on the limited use of history. Not only was the ‘Leave’ movement steeped in nostalgia, with Jessica Reinisch subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, accessible at that a return to a past age is desirable and feasible, but continental European and British understandings of history frame attitudes toward Europe in entirely different ways.

Finally, the contributors to this volume illustrate how current controversies about British history and its position in Europe change historical interpretations, often dramatically. In the wake of Brexit, history is being rewritten all over again. The contributors and editors share the goal of restoring ambiguity and caution about uncritical uses of history.

Strategies and policies

  • For agriculture: ‘a thriving, resilient agriculture industry that promotes Wales’ current and future well-being’ (Natural Resources Wales, 2015b);
  • For the rural environment: ‘Healthy, resilient ecosystems that support our economy, health, and well-being, as well as (representing) an integral part of our community.’ They provide us with food, clean water, and air, raw materials, and resources for our factories, and they protect us from natural disasters like flooding and climate change’ (Armstrong, 2016).
  • For the Welsh economy and communities: ‘to be widely known as one of the best places in the world to live, work, and prosper… a strong economy, not as an end in itself, but for the integral contribution it can bring to the quality of life and physical, social, and environmental welfare of people and communities in Wales, with sustainable growth as our core organizing principle.
  • About the Brexit process and consequences, ‘Wales should seize the opportunity to establish new ways of shaping the future in accordance with existing best practice and (to) think inventively about new ways of doing things best suited to our needs.’ (Gwilym, 2017)


For several years, England’s rural policies have been ripe for change. Brexit could provide an unexpected opportunity to reconsider policy approaches. The Common Agricultural Policy will be abolished, as will the Single Farm Payment and rural development support programs such as LEADER. It remains to be seen. What should replace the CAP is a question that needs to be addressed. However, these concerns should go beyond agriculture and understand how should meet rural communities’ needs to give them the best chance of surviving and contributing fully to the UK’s future.




Ap Gwilym, R. (2017). The case for a Land Value Tax in Wales. Institute for Welsh Affairs.

Armstrong, E. (2016). The Farming Sector in Wales. Research Briefing, National Assembly

for Wales. September 2016.

Defra and HM Treasury (2005). A Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy. HMSO,


Exmoor Hill Farming Network (2016) Exmoor Farming Delivers for People and the

      Environment. EHF,

Farm Business Survey (2016). Wales Farm Income Booklet, 2015/16 results. Aberystwyth

University, Aberystwyth.

Helm, D. (2016) British Agricultural Policy after Brexit. Natural Capital Network Paper 5.

Historic Wales (2007). The Welsh Historic Environment: a position statement. Welsh

Assembly Government, Cardiff.

Holmans, A. E. (2015). Future need and demand for housing in Wales. Public Policy

Jones, L. and Lever, J. (2014). Migrant workers in Rural Wales and South Wales

       Valleys. WRO report.

Morgan, E. (2017). Rural Wales: Time to Meet the Challenge 2025. Wales Rural

Development Forum.

Natural Resources Wales (2015). A Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) For Natura 2000

in Wales.

NRW Natural Resources Wales (2016). The State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR):                     Assessment of the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources.


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