New planning guidance revealed today by the Assembly's Environment Minister will greatly help sustain rural communities in Wales, according to the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Welcoming Jane Davidson's announcement at the Royal Welsh Show, FUW's land use committee chairman Richard Vaughan said it was in line with measures the union had been demanding for many years.

"We believe that the Minister's new Technical Advice Note 6 (TAN 6) - Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities - will help farmers diversify and encourage the retention of young people in the countryside.

"Her decision to extend the scope of the existing agriculture and forestry dwelling category will greatly assist farmers involved with diversification projects.

"One of her other major change - accepting second dwellings on established farms where there is a need for a part-time worker - is really good news for farms which also have a diversified business.

"And the principle of allowing second dwellings on farms when it facilitates the handover of the management of the farm business to younger farmers is a particularly pleasing step forward. "

During the launch the Minister underlined the need for consistency across Wales in dealing with rural planning applications.

"We hope that local planning authorities will accept the spirit of these guidelines aimed at improving the long-term viability of agriculture and the wider rural economy," added Mr Vaughan