National Park planning powers that may limit or obstruct the development of upland farming businesses need fundamental reform, a new report has said.
The Cherished Heartland report, by professors at Aberystwyth University College in Wales, said that some very hard choices had to be made if upland areas were to continue to make a valued contribution to the national life of Wales.
Professors Peter Midmore and Richard Moore-Colyer said that the interaction between sustainable farming development and upland conservation had to be recognised.
But the professors warned that upland areas were at ‘tipping point’.
The report findings highlighted deep uncertainty about the impact of the single farm payment, and many political, economic and global threats.
And the professors insisted that the uplands played a pivotal role in terms of culture, recreation, environment and national identity, and this combination outweighed the agricultural potential.
Maintaining the status quo is not an option, and the report suggested that urgent action was needed to avoid land abandonment and environmental degradation.
Greater resources to aid the continuation of upland farming could be delivered through agri-environment schemes funded by a higher rate of modulation.
But benefiting farmers should be required to maintain minimum levels of production required to meet conservation objectives.