News archive

January 2018

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Big Garden Bird Watch

Big Garden Bird Watch

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Sunday 29th April 2018 walk around Houghton

Please Note!! This walk has been cancelled.

Another walk has been added to replace it. See events page for the new walk at Ebernoe Common on Tuesday 24th April 2018. Also the new schedule of walks for your diary will gradually be added over the next few days

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Wildflowers at RSPB Conwy nature reserve

Gove pledges to reward wildlife-friendly farmers

In his debut speech as DEFRA Secretary in September, Gove had promised a "green Brexit", and this announcement will be seen as his first foray into providing some substance to this commitment. The existing payments will continue until 2022, when there will be "a transitional period ....depending on consultation" until the new system is in place in 2024.

Calling the current subsidy system "fundamentally flawed", the minister said: "Paying landowners for the amount of agricultural land they have is unjust, inefficient and drives perverse outcomes. It gives the most from the public purse to those who have the most private wealth."

He said that he would replace the current Basic Payment Scheme for farmers "with a system of public money for public goods [as a reward for] environmental enhancement." He maintained that the CAP "perversely ... rewards farmers for sticking to methods of production that are resource-inefficient and also incentivises an approach to environmental stewardship which is all about mathematically precise field margins and not truly ecologically healthy landscapes."

Farming industry leaders at the conference heard that current CAP-level subsidies per acre - worth about £3 billion per year - will continue to be paid until 2024, after which farmers will be expected to earn any future payments by pursuing activities which benefit the greater environment, such as planting wildflower meadows, hedgerows and trees or improving water quality. This is longer than the government originally predicted, leading The Times to call Gove's announcement a U-turn. The minister also said additional money would be made "available for those who wish to collaborate to secure environmental improvements collectively at a landscape scale."
The minister warned the assembled representatives that the UK is less than 40 years away "from the fundamental eradication of soil fertility". Farmers have already indicated dissatisfaction with measures such as introducing CCTV into slaughterhouses, an undertaking to ban neonicotinoids, the reintroduction of European Beaver to Britain and proposed restrictions on live animal exports; some of these have been pitched as reassurance to alleviate conservationists' concerns that Brexit will undermine existing animal welfare and environmental protections.

Talking to the BBC earlier, the Scottish government's Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said that Michael Gove had left "too many questions unanswered", though the minister insisted that standards would not be compromised after Brexit.

Martin Harper, the RSPB's Director of Conservation, said: "The steps Michael Gove has set out are vital to bring about the changes needed in farming so that it works for farmers, nature and society. We look forward to seeing the detail laid out in new legislation so that farmers get the clarity they need to help them adapt towards the new system. If the government is serious about meeting even its existing environmental ambitions then of the £3 billion currently spent each year on agriculture, £2.3 billion annually must be invested in effective and targeted land use management over the next decade."

The government is expected to fully publish its agriculture proposals in the spring.