Countryside Agency

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The Countryside Agency in England was a statutory body set up in 1999 with the task of improving the quality of the rural environment and the lives of those living in it. The Agency was formed by merging the Countryside Commission and the Rural Development Commission. Its powers were inherited from those bodies.

Its main aims were to 'conserve and enhance England's countryside, spread social and economic opportunity for the people who live there and help everyone, wherever they live and whatever their background to enjoy the countryside and share in this priceless asset more'. Funding came from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as an annual budget of around £100 million. The Agency was based in Cheltenham with smaller offices in London and the regions. Total staff numbers were around 600.

Following a review by Christopher Haskins, Baron Haskins of Skidby of several Government organisations involved in rural policy and delivery, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 [1] merged part of the Countryside Agency with English Nature and parts of the Rural Development Service to form Natural England. The remaining part of the Countryside Agency became the Commission for Rural Communities.

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