Many of you have expressed concerns about the protection of our environment once we leave the European Union. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a renewed appreciation of our environment and the green spaces around us, I for one am very grateful for the many green spaces we have in Castle Point. I therefore want to reassure you that once we have left the EU we will be free to chart a new course tackle the environmental challenges we face and indeed enhance our protection of it.
That is why the Government has recently announced several new measures to protect our environment:
Covid-19 has contributed to the widespread, serious and rising problem of mental ill health. Green prescribing works by systematically connecting people with opportunities to engage with nature and the outdoors to improve their physical and mental health. Starting this autumn, the Government will be investing a further £4m in a two year pilot to bring green prescribing to four urban and rural areas that have been hit the hardest by Covid-19. Local teams involving NHS England, Public Heath England and Natural England will work together to prioritise communities and social groups who have been worst hit by the covid-19 pandemic.
Local Nature Recovery Strategies
Local Nature Recovery Strategies are one of the new flagship measures in the Environment Bill. They will combine local knowledge with expert information and advice to plan for more coordinated, practical and focused action to support nature recovery and the Nature Recovery Network across the country. Over £1m will be invested this year in 5 Local Nature Recovery Strategy areas – Buckinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Northumberland, Cumbria, and Cornwall – to prepare for future implementation nationwide
A Long Term Approach
The Government is committed to restarting the Environment Bill as soon as possible in the Autumn. Meanwhile they will shortly be publishing a paper that sets out their approach to setting long-term targets on biodiversity, waste, water, and air quality through the Environment Bill, so they are established by October 2022. An appointment campaign for the first Chair of the Office for Environmental Protection will also be launched shortly so they will be in place to lead the new Public Body in 2021.
Environmental regulation and planning
Later this autumn the Government will be launching a new consultation (England-only) on changing its approach to environmental assessment and mitigation in the planning system. A new £5 million pilot on establishing a new Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment has also been announced.
These are just some of the many actions this Government is taking to protect our environment in the future and please be assured that, even as we leave the EU, the Government is committed in its vision to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
We have set out plans to deliver a better, fairer system for England’s farmers after we leave the Common Agricultural Policy at the end of this year, transforming the way we support famers and helping to protect our environment for future generations.
At the end of the year our transition period with the EU will end, and we will have the opportunity to replace the top-down, bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy with a new system that truly works for the England’s farmers.
We have worked closely with farmers over the past few years as we develop this plan. We have now published our roadmap, outlining our new system that is tailored in the interests of England’s farmers, helping them to deliver for the environment, animal welfare and climate change whilst also running more profitable, productive and sustainable businesses.
Rather than the prescriptive, top down rules of the EU era, our new system will support the choices that farmers and land managers take; helping us to build back greener, meet our Net Zero commitment and deliver sustainable farming.
The changes will be designed to ensure that by 2028, farmers in England can sustainably produce healthy food profitably without subsidy, whilst taking steps to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions.
Next year marks the start of the transition where we will begin to move away from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) towards new policies that will be co-designed and tested together with farmers, land managers and experts, to ensure that the new systems work for them.
The key changes include:
- Introducing the Environmental Land Management scheme to incentivise sustainable farming practices, create habitats for nature recovery and establish new woodland to help tackle climate change.
- Investing in improving animal health and welfare as part of our sustainable farming approach. This will initially focus on controlling or eradicating endemic diseases amongst cattle, pigs and sheep .
- Direct Payments will be reduced fairly, starting from the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year, with the money released being used to fund new grants and schemes to boost farmers’ productivity and reward environmental improvements.
- Launching a Farming Investment Fund, which will support innovation and productivity. This will open for applications next year and will be used to offer grants for equipment, technology and infrastructure for the future.
- Simplifying and improving existing schemes and their application processes further from January 2021 to reduce the burden on farmers, and we will take a modern approach to regulation, cutting unnecessary red tape for farmers and working together with industry to design a more targeted regulatory system.
While the roadmap provides a clear view on the changes coming through the transition, this will be followed by a period of engagement with farmers, land managers and other stakeholders to finalise the design and operation of the future system to ensure they work for everyone. For example, the final design for the future Environmental Land Management scheme will continue to evolve and adapt to the lessons learnt through co-design exercises, such as the ongoing tests and trials and upcoming National Pilot for the scheme.
Path to Sustainable Farming
The ‘Path to Sustainable Farming’ document sets out more detail on the changes we are going to make, and what they will mean for farmers. To view the document, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agricultural-transition-plan-2021-to-2024.
For more information on the Government’s path to sustainable farming from 2021, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-unveils-path-to-sustainable-farming-from-2021.