Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Council leader given rural honour

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The alliance said Lord Hanningfield, left, had been a "great support"

The leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, has been honoured by the Countryside Alliance for his work to protect rural communities.

The alliance selected him for the award following his involvement in fighting against a second runway at Stansted Airport and post office closures.

It has selected him for the Rural Vision Award for 2009.

The national award is given to the politician the alliance feels has the countryside's future most at heart.

Lord Hanningfield said: "This is a great honour and extremely unexpected.

"As a former farmer I feel very connected to the rural communities in Essex, and their issues are very close to my heart.

"Essex is often seen as an urban overspill of London but actually it is not, a huge amount of our economy is dependant on our rural communities which is why I fight so hard on their behalf."

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