The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published its Rural Statement, billed as ‘a contract to give rural communities the power to hold Government to account on rural growth.’
Natural England has issued a further call for evidence as part of a wide-ranging review into land management, biodiversity and ecosystem services in the uplands. Views and contributions are being sought from upland land managers, land owners, industry, academic, scientific and third sector groups.
Controversy has arisen over Natural England’s launch of the “Making Environmental Stewardship More Effective” (MESME) initiative. Several new options are being introduced (mostly applicable only in the lowlands) and points available for low priority options are being reduced or their prescriptions are being made more demanding.
The Federation of Cumbria Commoners welcomes the news that Natural England has abandoned its vision for England's uplands. We look forward to playing a key role in discussions about planning the future of the uplands.
The Federation of Cumbria Commoners is a member of the new Cumbria & North Lancashire Farming, Food & Rural Group set up by Defra. Will Cockbain, former uplands spokesman for the NFU and board member for Natural England will be chairing the Group.
Environment Minister, Richard Benyon said;
“We are giving rural communities a new voice so that their interests will not be neglected by Government as they have been in the past.
Natural England has published a ‘package’ of information on its website outlining how the Environmental Stewardship (ES) programme will operate for the remaining two years of its current programme. The idea is to give farmers and advisors an overview of what is coming up and the chance to plan accordingly.
An Information Note containing a summary of the information, including budgets for the next two years, has been produced. Various other supporting documents are also available:
Take action now to help avoid unnecessary delays or reductions and make your SPS 2012 claim as straightforward as possible. Click here to register now to see the online services on offer. More and more farmers and agents are using the electronic service - over 31,000 applied online in 2011. Benefits include: on-screen checks to reduce errors, instant proof of receipt, no postage costs or delays, claim tracking and view and print claim statements and entitlements statements. Go to the RPA website to find out more http://rpa.defra.gov.uk/rpa
From 3 January 2012, Natural England will have more flexible powers to help resolve cases where breaches of environmental regulations have resulted in harm to wildlife and the natural environment.
Natural England already has enforcement responsibilities in areas including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, heather and grass burning, breaches of certain wildlife licences, breaches of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations and damage caused by injurious weeds.
Farmers wanting professional advice will no longer have to ring around dozens of organisations before getting through to the right source, said Agriculture Minister Jim Paice as he announced that a new, simpler Government advice service will launch in the New Year.
Defra’s new Farming Advice Service (FAS) will offer a one-stop-shop to farmers needing advice on subjects including cross compliance, nutrient management, competitiveness, and climate change adaption and mitigation.
Agriculture Minister Jim Paice launched a new £20 million fund, the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme, to help rural businesses increase profits and reduce their impact on the environment in early November.
Farmers, foresters and horticulturalists can apply for grants of between £2,500 and £25,000 to invest in green projects and new machinery so their businesses can grow in an environmentally friendly way to:
• save energy and reduce carbon emissions;