Beet factory closures threaten lapwing numbers

Closure of the York and Alscott sugar beet factories could cause a significant decline in lapwing populations on the farms supplying them, unless mitigating measures are put in place, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has warned.

A study in Shropshire found that sugar beet was home to seven times more breeding pairs of lapwings than fields of winter sown cereals and it is calling on the government to provide “lapwing friendly” support through the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.

“Farmers who are forced out of growing sugar should not be forced out of looking after wildlife,” commented the RSPB’s agricultural policy officer Harry Huyton.

“It is essential that funding is found for Higher Level Stewardship now, instead of being bargained away in the corridors of Whitehall and Brussels.”