"For a while now we have been very concerned about the future
of hill farming.
"Hill farmers have the responsibility for some
of our most dramatic and best-loved scenery, some of our most vulnerable
habitats and some of our most fragile economic communities. This
is the front line in so many respects. It is therefore vital that
DEFRA get this scheme right," said David Fursdon, president
of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in response
to the announcement today (Wednesday 13 December) by Jeff Rooker
MP on the extension of the Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) to 2009 and
the creation of an Uplands Entry Level Stewardship Scheme.
"The CLA acknowledge the drivers towards targeted funding
which deliver specific public benefits. The continuation of the
HFA from 2007 to 2009 ensures that land managers not only have
time to assess the changes, but more importantly will give DEFRA
enough time to develop a scheme with a good menu of environmental
management options that are workable in an upland farming system.
The current Entry Level Scheme has proved unattainable for many
farmers in upland areas.
"It was essential that the integration
of upland support to more specific environmental delivery followed
the broad and shallow nature of the Entry Level Scheme. Undoubtedly
there are sites of particular high nature value in the uplands
and these, in most cases, are designated and their management funded
accordingly. However the value of these areas to biodiversity and
public enjoyment are greatly diminished if the management of the
land surrounding these sites is not supported. A new uplands scheme
must remain available to all and not highly targeted to specific
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