Duties on Public Authorities

The Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016 imposes certain duties on those public authorities listed in the Schedule to the Act. It also imposes additional duties on DAERA and a duty on the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Duty to have due regard to rural needs

Under Section 1(1) of the Act a Public Authority must have due regard to rural needs when:

  • Developing, adopting, implementing or revising a policy
  • Developing, adopting, implementing or revising a strategy
  • Developing, adopting, implementing or revising a plan
  • Designing or delivering a public service. 

‘Rural needs’ is defined Section 6 of the Act as ‘the economic and social needs of persons in rural areas’. 

Duty to monitor and report

Under Section 3(1) of the Act a Public Authority must, in such manner as may be directed by DAERA,

  • Compile information on the exercise of its function under Section 1 of the Act,
  • Include that information in its annual report; and
  • Send that information to DAERA

Additional Duties on DAERA

Duty to publish an annual report

Under Section 3(2) of the Act DAERA must publish an annual report containing;

  • the information sent to it by public authorities under subsection (3)(1)(c)  of the Act; and
  • information on the exercise of its functions under the Act

and lay a copy of the annual report before the Assembly. 

Copies of Rural Needs Annual Monitoring Reports are available here.

Duty to make arrangements for co-operation

Under Section 4 of the Act DAERA is required to make arrangements with public authorities with a view to securing co-operation and the exchange of information between public authorities. 

Duty to review list of public authorities

Under Section 1(3) of the Act, DAERA must, at least every 3 years, review the list of public authorities set out on the Schedule and, if it thinks it appropriate, amend the Schedule to:

  • Add a body or person to the Schedule;
  • Remove a body or person from the Schedule; or
  • Modify any entry in the Schedule. 

Duty on the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Under Section 3(3) of the Act the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs must, on or after the day on which the report is laid before the Assembly, make a statement to the NI Assembly about the contents of the annual report.

To view statements on the annual report click here.

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