Meetings With Defra: Jan 2018

The Uplands Alliance has been busy having meetings with Defra over the last couple of weeks.

On Tuesday 16th January 2018 a deputation from the Uplands Alliance met with George Eustice – Minster of State for Agriculture and 3 of his officials. It was a productive meeting where we discussed the massive array of benefits the Uplands already provides and which could be enhanced with the correct payments going forward. At all our Meetings we aim to present the breadth  of perspective on the Uplands so your Chair was accompanied by Rob Stoneman from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Thomas Binns from the NFU Uplands Forum.

George Eustice MP asked for help designing the nuts and bolts of the new schemes. How do we calculate future payments?

We also discussed what will work on tenanted land and commons as well as owner occupied land. As to payment rates we need to consider:

  • What it costs to provide the benefits?
  • What is the value / worth of the benefits to Society?
  • What is Society prepared to pay for these Benefits?

There will be opportunities for involvement in the piloting of the new schemes. This piloting may be funded with funds raised from the capping of BPS when we leave the EU. The Command Paper will consult on the level of the capping.

We know that Defra are considering a Universally Accessible Scheme and George Eustice is keen to include rewards for a wide range of public benefits; environmental goods and services will be there but also they are exploring rewards for high levels of animal welfare and native breeds.

On Monday 22nd January 2018 the Uplands Alliance chaired a meeting that brought together a small group to brainstorm on the Piloting of new schemes in the Uplands. There are lots of groups with great ideas for pilots and we are keen these are co-ordinated. Officials from Defra’s Agri-Environment team and Natural England’s EU Exit team joined with National Parks England, the NFU, AONBs, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts to consider how piloting might work and in particular to ensure we test:

  • Delivery of a Range of Public Benefits
  • Different Types of Land Tenure: Owner Occupiers, Tenants, Landlords and Commoners
  • Geographical Spread
  • How to engage and motivate take up and delivery of outcomes

Thank you to Nigel Stone who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Uplands Alliance, to Natural England for arranging invites and to National Parks England for hiring the room. A note of the meeting will be available shortly and the Uplands Alliance been asked to submit a proposal for piloting environmental schemes in the uplands to Defra.

We are grateful to the Prince’s Countryside Fund that makes our attendance at such meetings possible as part of our project Creating a Brighter Future to improve the resilience of hill farm businesses.

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