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Stackyard News May 07

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Who Will Pay For The Countryside?

Country Land and Business Association Wales Director Julian Salmon says the key question facing Governments and land managers in rapidly changing times is to establish who is going to pay to achieve a balance between food security and the maintenance of a beautiful environment.


Commenting on top level discussions at the CLA Centenary Conference, Exploring the Future of Land Management, Mr Salmon called on the Welsh Assembly Government to take a lead in focussing attention on the central problem facing the Welsh countryside.

The conference at London’s QE 11 Centre was held to celebrate the CLA’s Centenary but also to assess what lies ahead for land management over the next quarter of a century. Chaired by John Humphrys, environment secretary David Miliband was among a number of high profile speakers.

CLA chief economist Professor Allan Buckwell took the opportunity to call upon the Government to re-think plans to reduce key European funding for agriculture. He said a European wide policy to provide food and environmental security was needed and the last thing the Government should be calling for was a reduction in the budget necessary to deliver it.

“The challenges faced by the food and environmental sectors will increase in the future, not decline, so there is no case for reducing Budget Heading 2, currently dominated by the Common Agricultural Policy, and a very serious case to expand it, especially so as the EU territory and population expands.

“It is necessary to say this because we sense that there is a British-led campaign currently underway to reduce the EU budget overall and certainly to reduce the expenditure in Budget Heading 2.”

Julian Salmon added: “The big question which no-one seems prepared to answer is how we are going to pay for the requirement for the beautifully managed environment we almost take for granted.

“We can’t have endless supplies of cheap food at least cost of production and expect to provide and maintain an attractive environment. Our challenge to the EU is to think long term as to how this can be achieved on a European level.

“Wales was imaginative in introducing the first whole farm environmental scheme, Tir Cymen over a decade ago. Times have moved on and pressures of climate change and food security will require a much more flexible and imaginative approach”.

Speakers at the conference included Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, environment secretary, David Miliband, journalist and commentator Simon Jenkins and shadow environment secretary, Peter Ainsworth.

Environment Secretary, David Miliband, said that it would be necessary to seek a compromise between environmental use and economic use to achieve better land management in the future. Land use challenges faced by the UK would be based on a set of 'new relationships'; with farmers, for subsidies in return for environmental goods; with developers, access to land in return for ensuring development are low carbon; and with citizens, extended rights of access in return for greater environmental responsibility.

A full transcript of Professor Buckwell’s speech is available at

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