Report slams browning of England

15 March 1999

Report slams browning of England

By Isabel Davies and Johann Tasker

THE government has been criticised for allegedly failing to meet its environmental responsibilities by allowing farmers to plough up permanent grassland unchecked.

The report, by the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), claims the government is failing to protect Englands valuable meadows and grassland.

An area of permanent grassland equivalent to the size of Bedfordshire has been ploughed up since 1992, the report says.

The report, Meadow Madness, says more than 122,000 ha (301,457 acres) of permanent grassland has been lost under the plough.

“Meadows are a vital element of the diversity and beauty of the English countryside ñ but they are being lost at an alarming rate and without protection their future is uncertain,” it says.

Reasons include an increased use of clean land for potatoes, more intensive dairy farming, a general trend towards arable cropping, and urban development.

The report comes as the government is criticised for failing to implement a European Union directive aimed at assessing the environmental impact of ploughing up land.

The directive was first introduced in 1985 and the government was required to implement it by July 1988.

The deadline for the government to implement an amended directive on environmental impact assessment expired yesterday (Sunday).

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