An early concern for rural conservation – which remains a key feature of rural planning today – eventually entered thinking on the development of a system of ‘comprehensive planning’ during the 1940s, and received attention in a number of infl uential reports examined below. Within these reports a variety of competing rationales and priorities for rural policy and planning found expression, and these eventually became embedded in their own ‘policy regimes’, which in turn became the responsibility of different agencies and government departments, many of which are examined in this chapter. These different regimes aimed:

to promote primary production (i.e. agriculture) in rural areas; to protect and conserve the most valued landscapes; to protect sites and species that had signifi cant interest from a biological diversity perspective; and, to manage and control development in the countryside.