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Campaign to Protect Rural England calls for planning changes to boost small­-scale farming

Published: Thursday, 25th August 2016

Report calls for the government to encourage more new farmers and new small­-farms to kick-start a post-­Brexit agricultural revolution…

Conservationists have urged ministers to increase the availability of land for new farmers and growers through a package of measures including changes to land­use planning, more transparency on land ownership and new incentives for small scale sustainable smallholders.

That was the call from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in a new paper which argued that farming in England needs to become more diverse to prove environmentally resilient and publicly accessible.

The report recommended new incentives for landowners to release land and changes to the planning regime to deliver allotments, community right­to­grow plots and smallholdings.

The document argued that a more diverse sector, in demographics, farm size and production, would forge a more resilient future that offers rewards beyond food, beautiful landscapes, clean water, abundant wildlife, better flood management and improved carbon storage.

The paper suggested that the government should try to reverse narrow trends of industrialisation and short­term efficiency that have inflicted damage on vital natural assets from landscapes and wildlife to soils and water.

Graeme Willis, food and farming campaigner at CPRE said: “The government has a great opportunity post­Brexit to determine what farming and the English countryside will look like. Do we really want to continue the pattern of ever larger agri­business, less connected to communities and out of kilter with nature?

“To forge a more resilient future, the government should encourage a mix of farms that produce different foods for local people and varied, thriving landscapes. The obvious place to start is by redirecting funding to help smaller, more innovative and mixed farms, and by making land available for new farmers to enter the market.”

Roger Milne