General News

General News

Government gives improved environmental enforcement powers to Natural England

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.

New advice service to give farmers a helping hand

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.

Cumbria Farm Watch - 101 new police non-emergency number

An easy to remember non-emergency police number has being launched today across our region.

You are now able to dial 101 to report non-emergency issues to police such as minor traffic collisions, criminal damage, or if you want to speak to your local neighbourhood officer about an issue affecting your community.

The new number is being introduced in the Cumbria, Cleveland, Durham, Northumbria and North Yorkshire force areas as part of a national roll-out in England and Wales designed to make it easier for people to contact police.

Unease about the Lake District National Park Nature Improvement Area bid

This scheme is part of the government's White Paper on the Natural Environment which will select 12 pilot areas across the UK to become part of a three-year plan to improve the natural environment. The Lake District National Park Partnership has been successful in its 1st round bid to deliver a step-up in nature conservation in the Bassenthwaite and Ullswater catchment areas.

The partnership now has to develop a full business plan. If successful they will be allocated about £600,000 over three years.

Federation's latest response to Defra Working Group SPS on Commons

We are a member of the Defra Working Group on CAP reform on commons that is trying to determine the detail of a scheme for SPS on commons. Our core aim is to support and maintain the active responsible management of common land. This is not an easy task and we do not have all the answers.

The key changes we have sought are:
1) Get rid of naked hectares by ensuring SPS is paid on the whole common
2) Ensure money is directed to active commoners whether active through grazing or committing not to graze in an environmental stewardship scheme.

£20 million for farming and forestry businesses

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;

CAP reform at a glance

We will be providing more information on how the CAP reform proposals affect commoners in due course. Starter for 10, the 10 key points of the reform proposals are as follows:

1) More targeted income support: fairer, simpler and more targeted support, fairly distributed among "active" farmers. Direct support payments capped at €300,000 in any one year.

2) More responsive and adequate crisis management tools: Safety nets for products most at risk of crisis, including private storage and public intervention, and the creation of insurance and mutual funds.

Update on Asulam for bracken control

Some of you will be aware that the chemical Asulam, used to control bracken, is to be removed from the market. However Defra and others are still trying to reverse the EU decision.

Simon Thorpe, from the Heather Trust, has updated the situation. As I now understand it Asulam will still be available for use 2012 under the use-up provisions. The message is that as far as possible it will be business as usual. During 2012, the contractors (helicopter and ground based companies) will be able to apply Asulam for landowners and managers, providing it was purchased before 31 December 2011.

Let's not rush into change on our uplands

The July issue of Cumbria Farmer has an article from Julia Aglionby, one or our committee members. In this article Julia considers Natural England’s target to see 25% of the uplands wooded by 2060.

Julia believes that a sudden increase in woodland planting is not sensible or practical for the following reasons:
• The current stewardship schemes on commons are not fit for the task, as woodland establishment requires sheep exclusion for 20 – 50 years and Natural England can only offer payments for 10 years

The Lake District is increasingly being seen as non-farmer friendly

An article in the July 8th edition of Farmers Weekly features fell farmers' concerns over the de-stocking policies of fell land being imposed by Higher Level and Entry Level Stewardship schemes.

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