NEW CLA VISION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
The delivery of environmental 'goods' depends on farmers and land managers, according to CLA Wales. And environmental policies which put too much emphasis on stick and not enough on carrot do not, and will not, work.
The view has been put to the Welsh Assembly Government as part of the Country Land and Business Association's new vision for environmental policy. The study, "Public Goods from Private land - why Nature needs Farming" has been submitted to Countryside Minister Carwyn Jones by CLA Wales Director Julian Salmon.
Mr Salmon who farms near Presteigne says the role of the private land manager is paramount and should not be disregarded. He says the CLA report constitutes a timely and fitting response to the current WAG consultation on an Environment Strategy for Wales. It looks at the delivery of environmental services and the management of environmental resources within the context of economically viable land management.
"The challenge for the future is to recognise the many positive services that only land management can provide to mitigate some of the negative impacts on the environment", he added. "The current orthodoxy is to tackle environmental problems through ever more regulation, whereas we believe a more effective way is to engage the services of private land managers".
He said there were searching questions that had to be asked, such as the value of the environment to society. What balance of incentives and regulation will produce the most environmental benefits? What practical steps need to be taken for the UK to reap the most environmental 'goods' and the least environmental 'bads' from our land? And how should the pivotal role of the private land manager best be harnessed for the greater good?
Mr Salmon has submitted the CLA's views on the consultation document, together with the report to Carwyn Jones. He has urged the minister to include stronger references to the contribution that land management can make to favourable environmental outcomes.
And he has highlighted the CLA's determination to jolt the current orthodoxy that the best way to tackle environment problems is through ever increasing regulation. CLA believes that the current policies which favour regulation over motivation are simply not working.
In the document and at a top level round table discussion held at CLA's London headquarters today, the CLA sets out that a far more effective approach to achieving environmental targets is to get private land managers involved and engaged rather than bound in red tape.
Speaking in London, CLA President Mark Hudson who lives and farms near Ruthin said: "All sectors, such as industry, construction and transport, can work to lessen their negative environmental impact - but only land management can deliver positive environmental results as part of its economic activity. The opportunity to reduce and store greenhouse gases, provide renewable energy and the sustainable management of natural resources whilst providing jobs and investment opportunities is immense.
"However, the present policy approach which tries bureaucratically to micro-manage every square inch of the countryside is bound to fail. CLA's vision recognises that those best able to deliver environmental services are the very people who manage the land, its landscape and habitats. We set out seven principles and many practical steps on how Government can create and deliver effective environmental policy, which if followed could turn the UK into a leader, not a follower, in the global challenge of environmentally sensitive land management and in dealing with climate change," concluded Mark Hudson.
In a foreword to the vision, Jim Knight MP Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity said: "I support the positive links between an environmentally sustainable countryside and a prosperous one."
Jonathan Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission and Programme Director of Forum for the Future, also welcomed the CLA's contribution to the debate: "I am very pleased to see the publication of 'Public Goods from Private Land', in the sure knowledge that its forthright style will stimulate lively and constructive discussion." Whilst not supporting the entire CLA stance on regulation, Jonathan Porritt concurred that a new kind of regulation is needed: one that is "much more flexible and more closely aligned to the use of financial incentives."