2016-07-20   facebooktwitterrss

Action Needed to Alleviate Post Brexit Uncertainty

The Government needs to act quickly to quell uncertainty over Countryside Stewardship in the wake of the Brexit vote, says David Morley, Head of Conservation & Environment at H&H Land and Property.

The Government has committed to support farmers at levels provided under the Common Agricultural Policy until 2020. However, new Countryside Stewardship agreements starting in 2017 would run until the end of 2021. Natural England, who administer the Scheme on behalf of the Government, have so far not confirmed that they will issue any further Countryside Stewardship agreements, or indicated how they might be funded past 2020.

David Morley

David Morley

With many farmers currently in the process of applying for a Countryside Stewardship agreement, and a fast-approaching deadline of 30th September, it is important that they are informed on the decision surrounding 2017 agreements. If the outcome is that no 2017 agreements will be issued, then the significant cost of making the application will have been wasted. On the other hand, if they put their applications on hold, they run the risk of missing the deadline if the Government belatedly gives the green light.

“Countryside Stewardship applications, both Mid Tier and Higher Tier, are complex and cannot be completed in a short turnaround time,” continues David. “Therefore, the Government must make a decision quickly with regard to this application round.”

A financial commitment from the Government is also needed for existing Higher Level Environmental Stewardship agreements, some of which run until 2024. Farmers need to be sure that the Government will continue to pay for the positive environmental management they are undertaking until the end of these current agreements.

There is further uncertainty about the fate of the 900 Hedgerows & Boundaries Grant applications that were submitted by April this year. The Government was due to issue agreements by the end of June however, in the wake of the Brexit vote has not done so. David comments, “As these are only two year agreements, and funding is allegedly guaranteed until 2020, it is unclear as to why the issuing of these agreements has been delayed.”

Farmers are facing a state of uncertainty with regards to Countryside Stewardship schemes and prompt decisions are needed to allow them to plan and move forward.

HH Land

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