The Federation of Cumbria Commoners have written to Poul Christensen, Chairman of Natural England to express our disappointment in the way that Natural England have managed the whole issue of Permanently Ineligible Features (PIFs) in agri-environment agreements on common land.
We believe that delaying payment while sorting out minor changes due to PIFs in an agreement is disproportionate, unfair and causes hardship. NE should have considered alternatives to holding up of payments including;
On 29 July 2013, DEFRA launched a consultation which paves the way for the introduction of the new sheep database and reporting system in England in spring 2014. This consultation also relates to goats and deer although as little change is proposed, the NFU response will focus on sheep. This consultation covers several areas including some less controversial housekeeping changes that must be made to the regulations; however it includes the proposal to remove the derogation for non-electronic slaughter tags.
Natural England acknowledges that there remains concern and disagreement about the effects of grazing on the upland landscape and biodiversity, in particular about stocking rates, different livestock types, and the timing and spatial pattern of grazing regimes. The purpose of this report was to comprehensively review the effects of different grazing regimes and stocking rates
Figures from the Rural Payments Agency show that SPS is claimed on around 78% of all comon land in England. Over 80% of the moorland commons are coverd by SPS claims and SPS is paid on around two thirds of lowland commons.
The total value of SPS claims on common land is £19,313,847 of which £9,135,589 is paid out to moorand commons, but a further £7,335,784 is not claimed for this is mainly on the lowland commons.
Farmers and land managers should be appropriately rewarded for the work they do in maintaining and enhancing the supply of ecosystems services from the UK countryside is one of the recommendations from CRE Policy Brief 3 "What do ecosystems services offer the UK rural economy?" Centre for Rural Economy, University of Newcastle.
What are ecosystems services?
Ecosystem services include the essential natural services provided by the land, including:
The current Rural Development Programme (RDP) is due to finish at the end of this year, but the next RDP will not start until 2015. Pending agreement on the legal basis and rural development budgets, Defra are planning to offer £30 million to spend on Environmental Stewardship in 2014, which is very welcome news for hill farmers in the Lake District and other upland
The bulk of this (£26 million) will be spent on top priority Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements, to be targeted at:
You may wish to comment on United Utilities (UU) draft Water Resources Plan (WRMP) before the Consultation period closes on 6th August. The plan sets out how – for the 25 year period between 2015 – 20140 - UU intends to provide enough quality water to meet customer needs at an affordable price without damaging the environment.
Political agreement was finally reached on the future CAP after The Commission, The Council, and the EU Parliament came to an agreement this Wednesday the 26th June. The deal is yet to be formally approved by Council and EU Parliament and there are still some outstanding issues to be dealt with, in particular the moving of funds between Pillar 1 and 2, rates of member state co-financing and the question of capping large payments.
The Federation of Cumbria Commoners is a member of a coalition of 18 organisations that have written to Owen Paterson MP - the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and also to the agriculture ministers in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland - warning them of the impending crisis facing wildlife, landscape and communities in so-called High Nature Value (HNV) farming areas.