More pressure for compulsory ‘set-aside’

Conservationists have said they remain opposed to allowing farmers to replace the environmental benefits of set-aside through a voluntary approach.

Representatives from 18 wildlife and environment groups wrote to The Guardian newspaper on Thursday (28 May) in response to an article about falling bird numbers.

The letter said: “The farming industry recently issued its plans to encourage farmers to replace the benefits of set-aside through voluntary action. In our view this won’t achieve what is needed as it lacks urgency and specific targets.

“The alternative scheme, which would require farmers to manage a small percentage of their land for the environment in return for their subsidy, stands a much better chance of success.”

The letter was signed by groups including the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and CPRE.

The government’s consultation about what steps should be taken to take to mitigate the removal of set-aside closed on 27 May.