Rural economic growth needs a better connected countryside if it is to “survive in the modern world”, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has said.
The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales, told the newly formed House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy that digital connectivity is “vital to running rural businesses effectively”.
An inquiry by the Committee, which was appointed to investigate the rural economy, is taking recommendations from leading rural organisations for a report on the impact of government policies on rural economic growth to be published next year.
Christopher Price, CLA director of policy and advice, said: “Connecting the countryside has the potential to revolutionise rural businesses and communities. Broadband and 4G mobile coverage are essential services in 21st Century Britain but rural areas are not able to participate in the digital revolution as fully as in urban areas.
“Rural economic growth depends on digital services fit for the modern world. The Committee should challenge providers over the roll out of broadband to ensure they comply with the Universal Service Obligation and mobile phone operators held to account to deliver rural 4G.”
Price added that the planning system was also a barrier to growing the rural economy. “Resolving growth, jobs and desperately needed homes,” he said.