DEFRA secretary condemns green Pillar 1 payments

DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman has condemned the European Commission’s proposals to green Pillar 1 payments, warning of “unintended but perverse consequences”, which were already beginning to be seen.

In a keynote address to NFU Scotland’s international summit on the greening proposals Mrs Spelman reiterated the DEFRA view that the best way of meeting environmental targets was through Pillar 2 but she said if Pillar 1 had to be greened it should be based on six principles.

• Environmental benefits delivered by greening should be additional to those already delivered by cross compliance.

• There should be flexibility for Member states – and devolved administrations within Member states – to choose fro a range of options to meet different circumstances and hence difference environmental objectives

• There must be a sufficient degree of equivalence of environmental outcomes across Member states

• The level of administrative burden and complexity should be proportionate to the benefits

• There should be recognition of the efforts of those farmers who have already committed to environmental measures under Pillar 2

• A proper balance between environmental and sustainable production should be ensured

Mrs Spelman added: “You just need to look at England and Scotland, two close neighbours who share the same island, to see that one size does not fit all. Our farm structure and our climates are different and 85% of Scotland is designated Less Favoured Areas. That needs to be catered for.

“Deciding on how to improve the environmental performance in Scottish faring is not something we want to do from London, still less from Brussels.”

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