Decentralisation of major services and the fact rural areas are still failing to reach adequate broadband speeds is exacerbating the feeling of remoteness in the countryside.
That was according to the Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) and Scotland’s Rural College’s Recharging Rural report, published this week, which said staggeringly high house prices and a forced reliance on public transport was also adding to feelings of isolation, with industry fears rural communities were becoming more remote.
It said rural people were eager for improved infrastructure to encourage young people and businesses to stay in or move to rural areas.
PCF director Claire Saunders said the majority felt the surge in feelings of remoteness was caused by the decline in the number of rural businesses and employment prospects, and the outmigration of young people.
Young people leaving the area was a ’top five’ issue across rural UK, being seen as a natural result of the mix of poor job prospects and weak digital connectivity.
Ms Saunders said: “Rural respondents told us their lived experience is too often and too easily overlooked, and that living in rural areas can make them feel invisible.”
It coincided with calls from Welsh social care minister Huw Irranca-Davies to tackle loneliness and isolation following suggestions the issue in rural Wales was a ‘ticking timebomb’.
CLA housing adviser Matthew O’Connell said: “This is a powerful reminder for policy-makers that people living and working in the countryside must be as valued and respected as the landscapes they inhabit.
“Many of the survey responses highlight concerns that stem from a lack of public investment whether it be roads, closures of public services, telecommunications or affordable housing.
“Addressing these issues is crucial if the countryside is to attract private investment and create the jobs needed for a sustainable future.”
More detailed findings in the report suggested while feelings of remoteness had increased over the past 10 years, more than 500 community-led projects were being delivered to help remove the barriers and bring people together.
Ms Saunders said: “These projects address feelings of isolation in rural areas and foster a sense of community spirit and pride.”