Tim Bonner is to take up the role of chief executive at the Countryside Alliance (CA).

Sir Barney White-Spunner will be stepping down as the organisations executive chairman after three and a half years following the CA AGM in September. The board has appointed Tim to take charge when he leaves.

Tim said the appointment was a “huge honour and huge responsibility”.

“I am constantly aware of the hundreds of thousands of CA members and supporters who rely on us to give them a voice. The Alliance will always focus on the core political and campaigning work it does best, but must also change to face new challenges,” he added.

CA chairman, Lord Mancroft said that outgoing executive chairman Barney brought “much-needed stability” to the organisation.

“He has also wrestled with some of the most intractable issues facing the British countryside,” added Lord Mancroft.

“He leaves hunting in good heart — if a bit frustrated by the vagaries of the SNP — shooting in a much better place than he found it and a Government far more engaged on a range of rural issues than when he arrived. He has also started restructuring us so that we are fit to face the challenges of campaigning in the digital 21st century world. We are hugely grateful for his efforts.

“The Board was able to appoint an exceptional internal candidate in Tim Bonner who will provide continuity while pushing forward the evolution of the Alliance and its campaigns. We remain committed to providing a voice for rural minorities however controversial the issue, and the organisation must continue to adapt to maintain its influence in an ever-changing world.”

Barney added: “The Alliance has always been a most important body and it is becoming ever more so. In a world which sees issues primarily through an urban lens, it is vital that we have a vibrant organisation to speak up for those who live and work in the countryside and ensure that our interests are properly represented. This is as true of broadband and mobile phones, of proper local services and housing, as it is of hunting and shooting. They are all part of the complex whole that constitutes the rural community and its economy. It has been a great privilege to lead the Alliance and to be able to give something back to a world which has been so much a part of my life.”