Wildlife industry bods have demanded MPs to back their amendments for a greener Agriculture Bill to avoid slashed investment in land and environment schemes 10 years from now.
The Wildlife Trust senior policy manager Ellie Brodie used the 10-year analogy to visualise what she called ‘a plausible alternative scenario’ in which, by 2028, funding for farmers and land managers had been slashed in government spending review year on year, with public money being spent on paying farmers to produce cheap food.
Instead of having long-term funding from the government’s Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) and the option to use satellite imagery to monitor pollutant run-off, farmers would be left so unsure of whether they would be fairly paid for public goods that they would choose not to bother and instead use the ‘so-called delinked payment for machinery to help them apply ever more toxic chemicals’.
The Trust’s amendments included giving ministers duties to further the maintenance, recovery and restoration of the natural environment and ensuring payments for improving productivity were conditional on safeguarding environmental outcomes.
On the potential 2028 scenario, Ms Brodie said: “Wildlife declines have been compounded by the absence of environmental targets for nature’s improvement, because no-one – farmers, civil servants or politicians – stretched themselves to meet them.
“There was no vision, ambition of accountability. And no there is no agri-environment scheme either.
“Now bees are threatened with extinction in the south and east of England and anglers can no longer have much loved species in our countryside – hares, dormice and water voles have all gone extinct.
“It does not sound so great, does it? But this is where we could be without action this year from MPs.”
The Wildlife Trust is calling for: