1st Edition

Rural Governance in the UK Towards a Sustainable and Equitable Society

Edited By Adrienne Attorp, Sean Heron, Ruth McAreavey Copyright 2023
    262 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a multidisciplinary analysis of rural society in a post-Brexit UK by examining the emergence of new environmental and rural policies and the implications of this transition for rural communities.

    Through the Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, the Birds and Habitats Directives, the Water Framework Directive and a myriad of other legislations and institutions, the EU has had a deciding role in how the UK’s rural environment is governed. Disentangling this policy legacy is a complex process and offers both opportunities and challenges for policy makers, institutions, organisations and stakeholders across the UK as they strive to create appropriate new governance structures. With the Agriculture Bill, the 25-Year Environment Plan and the founding of the Office of Environmental Protection, the UK government has provided at least a degree of clarity on the future direction of environmental governance, but much remains uncertain, not least how this is engaged with by different stakeholders. While Brexit is the lens through which rural policy and sustainability are interrogated, this collection demonstrates the underpinning features of rural policy and society, identifying opportunities for addressing deep-seated policy weaknesses thereby creating a more sustainable and equitable rural society. This book brings together academics, established and early career, to discuss the impact of Brexit on rural environmental governance and on the wider sustainability of rural society, relating to three overall themes: rural governance, sustainable land use, and sustainable rural communities. In doing so, it considers sectors beyond agriculture, paying attention to social relations, community infrastructure, the environment, rural development and broader issues of land use.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of rural development, rural entrepreneurship, rural digital inclusion, environmental policy, sustainable development, land use, agrarian studies and environmental geography.



    The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    1 Rural Governance in the UK: Towards a Sustainable and Equitable Society

    Sean Heron, Ruth McAreavey and Adrienne Attorp


    2 What is the rural?

    Ruth McAreavey


    3 Rural Governance of the United Kingdom in and out of the European Union

    Sean Heron


    4 Co-designing post-Brexit agricultural policy

    Ruth Little, Jessica Lyon and Judith Tsouvalis


    5 Governing the UK agri-food system post-Brexit

    Adrienne Attorp and Carmen Hubbard


    6 Resistance to Mining and Pathways to a Sustainable Rural Environment: Rewriting the Maps 

    V’cenza Cirefice, Sinéad Mercier and Aideen O’Dochartaigh 

    7 Governing like a forest: achieving diachronic integrity or emergency carbon sequestration through post-Brexit forest policy?  

    Sophie Wynne-Jones, Norman Dandy, Theresa Bodner, and John R Healey

    8 Sustainable rural development and rural energy communities in a post-Brexit UK: Paralysis or broader visions in uncertain times? 

    Laura Tolnov Clausen and David Rudolph 

    9 The impact of Brexit on the digitisation of rural areas in the UK

    Paolo Gerli and Jason Whalley

    10 Sustainable rural communities and patriarchal structures: the case of Shetland’s Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa 

    Hannah Budge and Sally Shortall

    11 Brexit and rural social entrepreneurship in the UK  

    Artur Steiner, Kate Stephens and Sarah-Anne Munoz

    12 Ongoing Challenges: for a Resurgent Rural in Post-Brexit, Post-Covid Times 

    Keith Halfacree


    Adrienne Attorp is a Senior Social Researcher at Scottish Government and an Associate Researcher at the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise at Newcastle University, UK.

    Sean Heron is a PhD candidate in politics at Queen’s University Belfast, UK.

    Ruth McAreavey is a Professor of Sociology at Newcastle University, UK.

    "With its key emphases on rural governance, land use and rural communities, in the backdrop of sustainability, this edited volume provides valuable insights on ’the rural'. It undertakes an original examination of the issues and synergies around agri-food systems, energy production, forestry, mineral extraction, patriarchal structures and the growing topic around the impact of digitisation on rurality. The collection’s wide, holistic approach draws together perspectives from different disciplines reflecting the multifaceted and synergistic nature of the rural." 

    Dr Ludivine Petetin and Dr Mary Dobbs, Authors of Brexit and Agriculture (Routledge 2022). Respectively, Senior Lecturer in Law, Cardiff University and Lecturer in Law, Maynooth University

    "This timely volume brings together a rich understanding of the rural which will inform discussions about the UK post-Brexit much more widely: too long has the rural been ‘left behind’ in analysing where the UK is going, or, when considered, only through the prism of farming and agricultural land-use. Here instead, the authors offer a multifaceted analysis of the rural and the challenges we face in making the rural, across the four UK nations, more sustainable."  

    Dr Viviane Gravey, Queen’s University Belfast, co-chair of Brexit and Environment 

    "What would it take to work towards sustainable and equitable rural governance in a post Brexit world? This timely book addresses this vital question, of relevance not only for the United Kingdom but for all of us working on questions of sustainability and justice in the present – in a time of great uncertainty, of climate change, the pandemic and of a full-scale war in our midst."  

    Seema Arora-Jonsson, Professor, Rural Development in Sweden and Europe, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.