During the late 1990s it became clear that the lack of a consistent and comprehensive government definition of rural areas hindered aspects of rural policy making. The publication of the urban and rural White Papers in 2000 led to a review of the existing definitions. A joint government initiative was set up to identify the various definitions of 'urban’ and 'rural’ in use, to assess their strengths and weaknesses in relation to policy needs and to make recommendations for any necessary definitional changes.
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