Plans to better assist farmers in hedge protection in addition to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were outlined by the government today (June 28).
Fences provide a multitude of environmental benefits, serving as wildlife corridors to help prevent species decline, slow soil erosion and drainage, support pollinators and wildlife. pollen for crops to produce food and remove carbon from the atmosphere.
A consultation launched today seeks views on how we can ensure fences continue to receive the right level of protection when we are no longer cross-compliance – rules farmers must follow. competition to receive direct payments under the CAP – and introduce new legislation tailored to the needs and best interests of British farmers.
The new legislation will benefit from the increased flexibility we have beyond the bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy to improve the way farm regulations work so they are clearer, more balanced and more effective for farmers. This will be key to meeting the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan commitment to help farmers create or restore 30,000 miles of hedges by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedges by 2050.
It builds on the decisive action that has been taken on fencing through government environmental land management plans to support farmers in sustainable food production while protecting and improving the environment.
It also comes with the government’s ambition to identify and unlock new investment opportunities to support nature restoration in agriculture through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF), which includes a pioneering carbon calculator created by the Allerton Research and Education Commission to enhance fence protection.
Thérèse Coffey, Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:
The fence is a landmark of the English countryside, providing shelter and food for native species, removing carbon from the atmosphere and reducing flooding.
We’ve strengthened hedges through our new farming plans and today’s consultation will provide additional regulatory support to ensure our hedges are managed and protected. better protection in the future.
Today’s announcement comes after the launch of the 2023 Sustainable Farming Incentives Program earlier this month, which includes new actions that pay farmers to assess the condition of their fences and manage them. them in a way that is compatible with wildlife and improves biodiversity.
Farmers and land managers are also being supported to maintain and restore fences through Rural Management. There are currently nearly 50,000 miles of fences with one or both sides managed under Environmental or Rural Management options, and we’ve assisted over 8,000 miles in fence creation or restoration through equity grants. of Rural Management.
The consultation will run through September 20 and seek views on how best to maintain and improve existing safeguards, as well as our approach to enforcement.
These measures include farmers maintaining a buffer strip along their fences and not cutting or trimming hedges during nesting and breeding season.
Combined, these measures will help achieve the Environmental Improvement Plan goals to create or restore 30,000 miles of fences by 2037 and 45,000 miles of fences by 2050, bringing the fence length in Britain is up 10% from its 1984 peak (360,000 miles).