Optimism over future of nature-based farming scheme in Yorkshire Dales

Nature-based farming schemes are being extended in the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: LDRS.

A pioneering agricultural scheme that supports nature recovery, mitigates climate change impacts and provides opportunities for people to discover and understand rural landscapes could be extended beyond the boundaries of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

A meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority heard while the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Farming in Protected Landscapes (FIPL) programme had proved popular with farmers in the area, it had also been “very well received” by ministers.

The meeting at the authority’s headquarters in Bainbridge was told grants worth some £885,000 were distributed among 74 farm projects in the national park last year.

Gary Smith, the authority’s deputy chief executive, told members that following two successful years of the scheme Defra had upped funding for the coming year to £1.5m and to £2.2m for the year after.

In the Yorkshire Dales the programme has supported restoration of over 175 hectares of grassland, the creation and restoration of 12km of hedgerows and restoration of three traditional barns.

Mr Smith said last year alone the funding, which is designed to replace direct subsidies as part of a major transformation of farming following Brexit, had also seen habitat restoration, the creation of shallow depressions which seasonally hold water for wading birds and the establishment of educational facilities on farms.

When it was announced in 2021,  members of the authority warmly welcomed the initiative as a way of proecting the national park’s landscapes shaped by thousands of years of farming, while also responding to the climate and ecological emergency.

After being re-elected as the park authority’s chairman, Malhamdale upland farmer Neil Heseltine said the last week had seen him “extolling the virtues of farming in protected landscapes” in a meeting with national parks minister Sir Gary Streeter.

Mr Heseltine, who earlier this month was elected chair of National Parks England, told members the programme, which it is hoped will help make marginal upland farms in the national park viable, was continuing to gain “increased traction within Government and Defra”.

He said support for the scheme in Whitehall was mounting as the Government considered changes to the statutory purposes of national parks, which include protecting the unique landscapes.

Authority member Yvonne Peacock told the meeting one of the most serious issues facing the national park was the ending of subsidies in 2027.

Mr Heseltine responded: “I think the Government is listening at the moment. I think now is the time that we can have real influence as national parks and as National Parks England. FIPL has landed really well with national parks, farmers, and that is being fed back to Government and to Defra.”

He added he was optimistic he would be able to influence Government to extend FIPL for national parks or into a nationwide scheme.

3 Comments

  1. This reminds me of ‘the ship of fools’ trying to repair the sails while the hull underneath them is cracking up. I refer to all the good they are trying to do for nature while the Dales are being flooded with high frequency electro magnetism via 5G antennas.
    There is plenty of scientific evidence that this will adversely affect animals, flora and fauna plus the farmers themselves.

    • Perhaps you could quantify the actual harm you are referring to and express it compared to the good that the FiPL programme is doing? Otherwise your claim may appear disproportionate.

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