Flax proposals to save SSSIs

10 October 1997

Flax proposals to save SSSIs

FLAX contractors are setting up a code of practice designed to stop farmers from growing fibre flax in special wildlife habitats and historic sites.

It is expected that EU subsidies will not be granted if fibre flax is grown in sites of special scientific interest, sites containing ancient monuments, special historical sites, and areas of unimproved or semi-natural grassland.

Work on the code of practice followed a number of high-profile recent incidents in East Sussex and Cornwall where farmers were criticised by environmentalists for ploughing up SSSIs interest to take advantage of the £569/ha (£230/acre) payment for growing fibre flax. More than 19,140ha (47,300 acres) of the crop has been grown this year.

At present, the Intervention Board hands out subsidies to the countrys four specialist flax contractors, who then pass the money to the growers.

The full classification of areas where payments would not be made has yet to be finalised.n

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