News & Events

Uplands Discussion at Penrith Mart

Three northern Sheep Breed Societies came together to host a discussion event at Penrith Winter Sheep Show and Sale on 21st January 2018. The Herdwicks, Swaledales and Rough Fell Societies invited a range of organisations were invited to have stalls and explain how their work can support upland farmers create more resilient and viable businesses going forward. The Uplands Alliance was there showcasing the benefits the uplands provides and having discussions with those visiting.

The speakers were Tim Farron MP (Westmorland) and two hill farmers – Will Cockbain (On the UA Steering Group) and Isaac Benson a National Trust Tenant in the Lake District. Trudy Harrison MP (Copeland) was also in attendance and was particularly taken by our infographic and keen to speak for the uplands. Over 100 farmers stayed for the discussion event and many more came to the Sale.

The videos of the two farmers speaking on their farms can we watched through he following links:

Will Cockbain

Isaac Benson




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.

Uplands at the Oxford Farming Conference 2018

We had an opportunity to showcase the Uplands at the Oxford Farming Conference. While the benefits are huge ensuring effective and enhances delivery is complex. Here is the speech delivered by Julia Aglionby, on behalf of the Uplands Alliance and Foundation for Common Land addressing some of these complexities and the essential need to work with and support those who own and tenant the land given 70% of the uplands is farmed by 6,500 farmers. This was part of the Birds and Bees panel session and after the fours speeches a debate was held on how to move forward, see report of debate here

Text of Speech by Julia Aglionby:    The Birds and Bees-Aglionby-OFC 2018-FINAL

Link for Video of Speech


South West Uplands Event – Jan 24th 2018

The Uplands Alliance is delighted to be working with a number of partners in the south-west to put on a one day meeting for the SW Uplands on Wednesday January 24th at Westpoint nr Exeter. Places are free and include lunch 10am – 3pm

The event is targeted at upland farmers on Dartmoor, Bodmin and Exmoor. Limited places are available for stakeholders. A flyer can be downloaded below.

Place are limited so do book your place with the NFU who are the primary organisers. The number to ring is: 01392 440700

Other partners include Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities, AHDB and CCRI

SW Uplands Flyer-Jan 18

Defra consults the Uplands Alliance on; ‘The Uplands and Remote Rural Communities’

The Uplands Alliance has been consulted by Defra regarding an evidence review they are undertaking on the Uplands and Remote Rural Communities. At this stage we have been asked to provide Defra with documents and evidence to inform the scoping of their work.

Attached is a list of the documents provided so far. If you have any other documents you recommend we add to the list please forward them to us ( so we can provide them to Defra. Thank you.

Reading List for Defra_s Uplands Policy Development Work-v2


A Future for England’s Uplands: a Summary

The Uplands Alliance is England’s leading network of organisations looking to shape a better future for England’s Uplands. In 2016/17 we carried out the country’s most detailed consultation directly with stakeholders to obtain the most accurate picture of the issues and opportunities the English uplands face. This has been brought together here in this summary. We sent this to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Defra with the attached letter. So far Mr Gove’s comments on the Uplands have been positive.

Over 300 people attended our workshops held in London, Cumbria, Shropshire and Exeter. Separate reports were produced for each event and these are available on our website. Here you can download our two page report collated around the five topics of:

  • Uplands Policy
  • Communication
  • Role of Farming
  • Future Schemes
  • Training and Learning

2016-17 UA Workshop collated findings-finalised

Michael Gove SoS Defra 14-09-17

Creating a Brighter Future for England’s Uplands

PrintThe Upland Alliance is delighted to have been awarded funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund to engage farmers, politicians and policy makers to ‘Create a Brighter Future’ for England’s Uplands post Brexit.


This project will over the two years 2017-19 enhance the capacity of English hill farmers and land managers to run viable and resilient businesses and prepare for the impending changes in agricultural policy. The upland farmed landscape provides a wonderful array of public benefits but the link between these and the payments hill farmers receive under the current support system has been too tenuous. so we seek to enable hill farmers to confidently offer a fresh covenant to the public. This covenant can secure funding where the market fails to properly reward them for the products they provide society. We will assist farmers make a transition in thinking so empowering them to reevaluate their assets and their offer. In parallel the project will engage with other stakeholders to reiterate the urgency of investing in maintaining and enhancing the natural, social and cultural capital of the farmed uplands for society. Our upland national parks receive over 70 million visits each year yet the payments made under BPS and stewardship equate to only £3.30 per visit.


  • Engage advisors to develop engagement plan with Steering Group and key contacts in hill farming networks and partnerships
  • Engage advisors to develop engagement plan with Steering Group and key contacts in hill farming networks and partnerships
  • Print T towels
  • Start implementation of engagement plan with hill farmers via
    • farmer networks,
    • commoner federations and
    • hill farming groups

to empower farmers to review their business models and incorporate public benefits as products

  • Established contacts with 30 key publications to “run” the story and
  • achieve10 published stories
  • Hold Engagement Event in Parliament – engage with 150 parliamentarians and NGOs
  • Support regional bodies deliver the change message to hill farming businesses
  • Start selling tea towels to recover costs and distribute the message wider
  • Plan and start a series of engagement events to explore the transition from subsidies to payments to Local Delivery of Outcomes for Society
  • Achieve a further 20 published stories

Measurable Outcomes

Through events, targeted publications and other engagement routes reach out to 1300 hill farming businesses and 150 key influencers.


Sharing Learning from our Neighbours: Is Welsh Upland Farming at a Brexit–induced crossroad?

The Uplands Alliance focuses on England but we are aware our challenges aren’t unique and so we are forming links with those in England and Scotland exploring the same issues as us. Here are links to the reports and presentations of a conference held in Wales in March entitled: Is Welsh upland farming at a Brexit–induced crossroad?

“Upland farming in Wales could be at a crossroads, which is why Bangor University, RSPB Cymru, and Cynidr Consulting, worked in partnership with support from the Welsh Government, to organise a unique event on the 15 March, to discuss the future of upland farming, and to offer farmers the opportunity to contribute to future land use policy developments.”

The conference report and all the slides from the presentations are available on the Bangor University Webpage – well worth looking at:

Here is the report as well: Future of the Uplands Post CAP Report Final

Uplands Alliance South-West Report

We are pleased to publish here the report of the fourth of our workshops on 31st March 2017. It was great to see such vibrant conversation in Exeter from a range of stakeholders from Conservation, Farming and the Defra Family (Natural England, Forestry Commission and the National Parks). Thank you to NFU for hosting the day and to Dieter Helm for being our guest speaker and to Nigel Stone for chairing the day. Financial Support was kindly provided by Dartmoor National Park Authority and Exmoor National Park Authority.

Report from the 31-03-2017 Workshop in Exeter: Shaping the future of the SW Uplands – with summary

Slides from Dieter Helm’s Talk to Uplands Alliance 31-03-17: Dieter Helm-Exeter Upland (F) 31.03.17

Slides from Julia Aglionby’s Talk to Uplands Alliance 31-03-17: Aglionby-UA-Exeter-Mar 2017

Dieter Helm Addresses “Looking Forward Shaping the Future of the South West Uplands” Workshop

We were delighted that Dieter Helm was able to address the Final “Looking Forward” Workshop held in Exeter on 31st March 2017. This Upland Alliance Event was organised by the NFU South-west and Exmoor National Park with additional financial support from Dartmoor National Park. All 40 plus participants from a wide range of conservation organisations and farms across Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor worked hard during the day and we were delighted to be joined by Natural England and Defra.

Full reports are in preparation and will come shortly. In the meantime here are the slides presented by Dieter Helm, Professor of Economics at Oxford University and Chair of the Natural Capital Committee and Julia Aglionby Chair of the Uplands Alliance.

Dieter Helms’ Presentation      outcomes-upland-alliance-22nd-sept-2016-workshopDieter Helm-Exeter Upland (F) 31.03.17

Julia Aglionby’s Presentation     Aglionby-UA-Exeter-Mar 2017