Policy Manager Ben Brown gives us the latest updates from the Landscape Institute policy team
Defra outlines proposals for the fate of the countryside after Brexit
The biggest contributor to the shape of rural landscapes in the UK today is probably the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Last month, the UK government set out its proposals for the future of this policy after Brexit.
They want for our views on what should happen after we leave the European Union to the €4bn that currently goes via the CAP. The impacts for our sector are potentially huge.
The CAP is, and always has been, the largest single line in the EU budget. (It’s currently about 38% of the total EU budget, and has been as high as 80% in the past). The UK pays about €4bn in total, most which goes to farmers to support their income. About €1bn of the total goes other rural development schemes.
It’s a controversial policy for a number of reasons, and environmental impact is high on that list. Regardless of who receives it, all the money that we spend via the CAP should support the sustainable management of natural resources – but this doesn’t always happen.
Brexit poses a challenge. Can we replace the CAP with a truly sustainable land management programme? One that ties the spending of public money to the provision of public goods, such as clean air, stable soils, flood management…?
It’s a big challenge. It requires us to think about new accountability structures. (Whose job is it to measure green outcomes?) We should also consider the types of outcomes we really want to see from our land. Landscape managers will have a major role to play.
Read the government proposals here. The deadline for responses is Tuesday 8 May.
LI President Merrick Denton-Thompson chairs the LI’s Rural Landscapes Working Group. If you would like to feed in to this group, or make any other observations on this government consultation, please email email@example.com.
House of Lords Select Committee publishes long-awaited report on Rural Communities Act
The report from the Select Committee on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC) came out on 22 March. It concludes that the government has diminished the resources given to protect the UK’s natural environment and safeguard rural communities.
The LI has been extraordinarily influential in the Committee’s work. Both Merrick Denton-Thompson and Scottish Policy and Influencing Consultant Rebecca Hughes have given oral evidence to the Committee, and we have submitted a written response. Our input has helped shape the report’s final recommendations, which include:
- transferring responsibility for rural affairs from Defra to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
- increasing funding to Natural England, better equipping it to fulfil its responsibilities
- assigning to a single-purpose unit within the Cabinet Office the responsibility for promoting and embedding rural proofing across Government departments
- amending the NERC Act to add a reporting requirement to the biodiversity duty
Latest consultation responses
The LI has recently submitted two important policy consultation responses.
Improving the use of planning conditions
The LI remains concerned that the proposed regulations will create negative impacts on a number of planning priorities, in particular those related to landscape.
Planning guidance on fracking
The LI believes that local communities and the natural environment should not be disadvantaged, put at risk or disrupted by the exploration and extraction of shale gas.