No mention of common land in Targeting Statements for Countryside Stewardship

Natural England have decided to call NELMS Countryside Stewardship. They recently issued Targeting Statements for their National Character Areas in Cumbria and are asking for comments.

I wasn’t sure what a Targeting Statement was, so I looked it up. The Humber Nature Partnership says:

“These form one part of the package of information that will be provided to potential applicants to the scheme, and they aim to concisely set out the high level priorities for the scheme in each target area. There is some but limited, opportunity to check and suggest changes to the content of the statements: this will be limited to checking for any inaccuracy, and suggesting additional opportunities for achieving multiple priority outcomes in the local landscape. The targeting statements will contain lists of the priority features in each area – these are not intended to be exhaustive lists – and how management for certain features will be targeted. The statements will not include a map of targeted features; maps will be available later as part of the wider package of information and IT support to scheme applicants."

Steve Lund of Natural England says "each statement follows a national template with generic wording and a consistent structure – we are not seeking comments on this template. Drawing on national data, information about the local area has been inserted into the national template to produce a statement specific to each NCA – we are seeking feedback on this information only.

As you will see, the statements are fairly strategic, giving some detail, but not all the detail needed to inform an application – this further detail will be available online as the applicant enters the application process, and will be available at a parcel level from the national data sets, which you have already commented on.

We would like your comments back by close of business on Thursday 20th November as we need to edit the statements based on your comments ahead of sending them off to our national team the following week. I apologise for this tight timescale but it is one we have inherited due to some delays farther up the scheme development process. Please send your comments back to me."

We have already e-mailed Steve to say that there is no mention of the word common land, let alone any recognition that the management of common land is not the same as enclosed land. Yet again, the unique way that common land is managed is either invisible or ignored by Natural England.

Wake up please, if society wants the public goods that are available in the fells such as landscape, bio-diversity, carbon storage and public access then ways must be found of supporting the farmers who largely create and maintain them.

You can read the draft statements here and please send your comments to Steve Lund on the form provided.