Farmers will have to wait to make their views on the future of agriculture and the environment known as there have been further delays to the publication of the Government’s two 25-year plans.
Consultations on the plans for food and farming and the environment were supposed to have been published last summer, but since then they have been held up a number of times.
Ministers have gone from saying they would be published ‘soon’ to ‘in due course’. The latest chosen phrase is ‘during this parliament’, which could be any time from now to 2020.
Shane Brennan, director of external affairs at the CLA, said Ministers had definitely changed their language but he was not ‘unduly concerned’ as the CLA and others had spoken to Ministers about their long-term plans for farming and the environment.
“This is not to say the situation is not confusing, and as far as possible Ministers must be open and clear about the process through which policy will be made in the months ahead”, he added.
Series of delays
Mary Creagh, MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, told Farmers Guardian this was the latest in a series of delays and it is essential the Government consults on and publishes its 25-year plan for the environment as soon as possible to inform Brexit talks.
The news came as a leaked draft version of the 25-year plan for the environment was leaked to the BBC. It was strongly criticised for being devoid of policy suggestions.
ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton told BBC News: “To protect nature, we need targets, investment and accountability, not grand promises with zero detail.
“We have been waiting for the 25-year plan for over a year. This version is 46 pages of empty words, and now it seems the final plan might not even be published. This is not good enough.”
A Defra spokesman said: “We are committed to publish both a 25-year environment plan and food and farming plan.
“We are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to inform development of the full plans.”