5 October 1999
Morley hints at help for orchards

By FWi staff

EXTRA money could soon be made available to safeguard orchards, junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley has announced.

While up to 90% of orchards lost in some areas in last 30 years, the governments Countryside Stewardship grants have helped protect others.

Admitting that the Countryside Stewardship scheme is over-subscribed, Mr Morley told Radio 4s Farming Today programme he would like to extend it.

“The issue is getting resources to do that. There are options to perhaps increase it in a big way, and that what were currently thinking about.”

While 600 orchard owners benefited since the scheme started in 1992, Sue Clifford of Common Ground, which campaigns for orchard rehabilitation, called this “a drop in ocean”.

She said that of 160 people who applied last year, a quarter were turned down due to lack of money.

Ms Clifford said: “If we want our apple and eat it, and keep orchards as part of the rural landscape, more money is needed.”