Following weeks of uncertainty and speculation after Brexit, the Game & Wildlife Conversation Trust (GWCT) has welcomed the announcement from Chancellor Philip Hammond that funding in the pre-Common Agricultural Policy(CAP) reform period is secure.
“Since the EU referendum, the future of agri-environment schemes has been in question. This uncertainty was unhelpful for farmers and landowners who need to make decisions regarding their environmental work;” comments Alastair Leake, Director of Policy & Head of Allerton Project at the GWCT.
The Chancellor has guaranteed that the current level of agricultural funding under CAP Pillar 1, which entails direct payments to farmers, will be upheld until 2020 as part of the transition to new domestic arrangements. Regarding CAP Pillar 2, which aims to promote rural development, the Chancellor stated that all existing and new scheme agreements signed before the Autumn statement will be fully underwritten for their entire duration. This does leave some question around those applications that will be made or not due to be completed until after the Autumn statement in November.
Alastair Leake continues; “In a letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the GWCT along with a number of other farming and conservation organisations, sought reassurance on the Government’s commitment to the existing agri-environment schemes. Without it, significant environmental work such as flood risk management, enhancing biodiversity, and efforts to conserve species like lapwing and curlew, are at risk. We recognise the detrimental effect the uncertainty could have on those farmers and landowners who are keen to continue their vital environment work, and we felt that they needed to have confidence to move forward with the support in place.”
He concludes, “This announcement from the Chancellor gives us the opportunity to carefully and thoroughly consider a new agricultural policy that will continue the successful work of farmers in our countryside.”
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
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