Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme
The Government has announced funding for the final round of the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme. £25 million has been made available in grants for productivity-boosting farming equipment in the third and final round of the scheme.
Farmers can apply for grants of between £3,000 and £12,000 to buy new and innovative equipment, from livestock monitoring cameras to precision farming technology, which helps businesses save time and money and improve productivity.
Tree Cover in National Parks
A report from Friends of the Earth claims that tree cover in many of our National Parks is less than in cities. In the Yorkshire Dales it is 4.1%, lower than London’s 4.5%, whilst in the Peak District it is 8.4%, lower than the 9.8% in Leeds. Overall, tree cover in National Parks is 15% which, the report suggests, could easily be doubled without harming other important habitats or land use. It is all very well suggesting a massive campaign to raise tree cover in National Parks to 35% but will that significantly alter the very features of the landscape for which it was designated?
As the Agriculture Bill returns to the House of Commons this week, George Eustice, Secretary of State at Defra, has confirmed that the Government has no intention of accepting any of the amendments passed in the House of Lords. In particular, the Government will not accept a commitment within the legislation to safeguard the environmental and animal welfare standards applying in this country when it comes to trade deals with other countries. This would include the Curry amendment, approved with a majority of over 100 in the Lords, which would ensure that independent advice about the impact of any trade deal on our food and farming standards would be given to Parliament before any such trade deal could be approved.
Principles of Gamebird Management
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has published its Principles of Gamebird Management which it urges all those who run shoots to follow. It comes at an opportune time with campaigns to limit or ban the release of gamebirds in England urging Government regulation, in particular the Judicial Review of Defra initiated by Wild Justice. However, the evidence from GWCT research is clear that, if these twelve principles are followed, there is a net biodiversity gain from shooting.