FCC urges RSPB to take the long view at Naddle and Swindale farms

The Federation is concerned about RSPB's plans for  a further reduction in sheep numbers on the two farms they tenant at Naddle and Swindale near Haweswater in partnership with United Utilities. These plans include  removing sheep altogether from the common known as the Waters.We believe that this could have very serious and long term implications for neighbouring commoners and how they farm the commons. 

We have written a letter to RSPB outlining our concerns and the potential impact of removing sheep. These include:

  1. Calling into question RSPB's understanding of “good neighbourliness”. This means recognising fairly your obligations to your neighbours. It is still a strong feature in the Cumbrian commoning culture and something the Federation values and promotes.
  2. The loss of cultural and genetic diversity when removing a hefted flock
  3. A reduction in the relevance of any 'farming' lessons that RSPB may learn for hill farmers
  4. Questioning the feasibility of RSPB employing a shepherd to sort out sheep ingressing from other commons
  5. A potential undermining of high nature value (HNV) farming - ironically RSPB is leading a campaign to support HNV farming

We are urging RSPB to take a long term view when making decisions about land and resource management.   We would  like to see RSPB   engaging  in a real sense with  local commoners and hill farmers who have a wealth of knowledge and experience of the area. Otherwise we believe that RSPB is unlikely to gain credibility and support for their ideas on delivering water quality and biodiversity.

A meeting was held recently between RSPB and the affected commoners and commons owners, the Federation was there as well. We will be working with a local land agent to gather information including estimating the potential extra costs incurred to the commoners of RSPB's decision. This evidence will help make the case to support decision making at further meetings.

To read our letter and the reply we received from RSPB - click here