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SW Rural Productivity Commission

The South West Rural Productivity Commission has been established as a partnership by four LEPs in the South West of England: The Heart of the South West (HotSW LEP), Dorset LEP, Swindon & Wiltshire (SWLEP), Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly (CIoS LEP) to explore the issues around rural productivity and growth.

These South West LEPs recognise the importance of rural growth, productivity and prosperity being tackled alongside urban growth, to ensure that improvements impact on all parts of the economy.  The commission is calling for written evidence and will also hear evidence through a series of panel hearings.


The hearings will be as follows:

  • 9th June (Somerset)
  • 20th June (Devon)
  • 28th June (Cornwall & Isles of Scilly)
  • 6th July (Wiltshire)
  • 18t July (Dorset)

 If you would like to observe one of these sessions, please register on the links below.  

The commission is set up to hear and review evidence from a range of sources and stakeholders, and aims to:


  • Frame the south west response to the Industrial Strategy and forthcoming DEFRA 25 year plans for ‘food, farming and fisheries’ and ‘environment’
  • Draw out the opportunities for the south west and individual LEPs to drive rural productivity improvements
  • Understand the wider economic functioning between rural and urban to identify opportunities to drive growth across the whole area
  • Secure Government support for specific initiatives in the 2017 autumn statement
  • Influence national and local policies where appropriate to improve rural productivity


The commission will report to the chairs of the four LEPs that have committed to the process.

Panel members include:


  • David Fursdon (Chair)David runs a rural business in Mid-Devon and was previously a partner in a SW rural firm as a rural surveyor. He also chairs Beeswax Dyson Farming Ltd and the SW Rural and Farming Network and serves on the Board of the National Trust and the Duchy of Cornwall rural committee. Other previous relevant roles include President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA); Commissioner of the Crown Estate; English Heritage and Affordable Rural Housing Commission, Chair of SW Board for 2012 Olympics, chair of Future of Farming review and Member SWRDA Board. 
  • Catherine Mead DL (Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) - Catherine is the CEO of Lynher Dairies Ltd, makers of Cornish Yarg.  Since joining the company 20 years ago, Catherine developed the business exponentially and 10 years ago acquired full ownership.  The business now exports all over the world and was awarded Regional Manufacturing Company of the Year in 2015 and Catherine was awarded the Women in business Award in 2011.  Prior to this, Catherine was a director of a London based advertising agency, with clients including the Home Office, Department of Transport and Department of Health.  She is Chair of Jamie Oliver's 15 Cornwall, a Trustee of the Duke of Cornwall's Benevolent Fund and Vice Chair of the Specialist Cheese Makers Association.
  • Luke Rake (Dorset) - Luke is the principal and Chief Executive of Kingston Maurward college (a specialist land based college). An Oxford educated zoologist, Luke's career has held roles in both schools and colleges including 10 years as vice principal of Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.  Luke sits on the National Data Management Advisory Board for Further Education working with senior partners in Government bodies and until gaining his position at Kingston Maurward college was the senior convenor of the Landex National Curriculum Group.  In his spare time, Luke enjoys the great outdoors and was previously a member and training officer for the Longdown Mountain Rescue Team based on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
  • Sarah Bryan (Heart of the South West) - Sarah is the Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park, responsible for overseeing the work of the National Park Authority, which exists to; conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of Exmoor, and promote opportunities for people to understand and enjoy its special qualities. Sarah has a degree in Environmental Science, a second degree in Landscape Design and is a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute. She was brought up in Cornwall, loves the south west and has been involved in the development of policy and management of protected landscapes for over twenty years
  • Paul Redmore (Wiltshire) - Paul is currently the Farm Manager of the Neston Park Estate, a 600Ha mixed organic estate, with various rural commercial ventures including farm shop, restaurant, cheese/ice cream production, joinery and film sets!  Paul studied Agriculture at Seale Hayne Agricultural College and then worked on farms in Canada, New Zealand and Australia before returning to the UK.  He has worked on various farms and Estates across the South of England, including 6 years as Bicton College Farm Manager, where he also sat on the college Governing body.  He has sat on the Board of Directors of Organic Seed Producers Ltd and Organic Arable Marketing Group Ltd for 2 years. Paul has a strong interest in integrating new technologies into farming systems, practical on-farm research, rural start-ups and education and training young people for the rural economy.



These panel sessions provide an opportunity for stakeholders and busineses to present evidence in person to the commission.  If you are interested in presenting to the panel, please complete the following expression of interest form. As panel time will be limited, we cannot guarantee all interested parties will be able to present.


The panel hearings will be open to observers, but please register to attend. Observers are kindly asked to remain quiet during the hearings.

Please use the links below to register to observe at the panel sessions.  Please note that we are still confirming venues for some of the sessions.  This website will be updated as soon as this information as been confirmed.  If you have any queries, please contact


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