7 June 2002

Grazed landscape under real threat

LANDOWNERS have called for more rural development cash to be directed towards the ailing livestock sector.

The arable sector is well catered for with existing Country-side Stewardship schemes, but the Country Land and Business Assoc-iation has warned the grazed landscape is seriously under threat.

"Theres an increasing concern that theres not enough stock in certain parts of the country to maintain the grazed landscape that people want to see," said the CLAs head of rural economy Oliver Harwood.

The warning forms part of the CLAs response to DEFRAs review of the English Rural Dev-elopment Programme schemes. The Association wants greater flexibility for green schemes to tackle issues like grassland desertion. It has also called for financial incentives to help solve the problem of diffuse pollution.

"The polluter pays principle does not work because the problem cannot be narrowed down to a single farmer," said Mr Harwood. "Incentives to provide green margins would be far more effective and achieve wider bio-diversity aims."

Both the NFU and CLA favour a "broad and shallow" reform route recommended by the Policy Commission report on the Future of Farming, to help more farmers access environmental schemes. But they warn that it must be properly funded. &#42