Country Land & Business Association MEDIA UNIT 16 Belgrave Square London, SW1X 8PQ Tel: 020 7460 7935 Fax: 020 7235 0528 WEBSITE: Head of Media: Richard Bailey - or 07714 756215 Senior Press Officer: Pippa Kidson Trigg - or 07889 912881 Release Status: IMMEDIATE Date: 18 April 2002 Release Number: 02039HQ


The CLA warns that excessive regulation and legislation is driving more and more farmland out of environmental stewardship schemes and announces that the CLA, National Trust and the RSPB are working together to create a basic stewardship scheme which will be simple and easy to apply over all the countryside of the UK.

Speaking at the Government's 10th Anniversary Conference of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, Sir Edward Greenwell, President of the Country Land and Business Association, urged the Government to encourage bio-diversity through positive incentive rather than negative regulation, saying:

"The CLA, National Trust and the RSPB are all working together to develop the sort of simple environmental scheme to which the widest possible number of land managers can apply. In so doing, we will both substantially expand the amount of land in environmental schemes and greatly increase the number of farmers taking part.

"Good environmental stewardship is a core function of sustainable farming and a great deal has already been achieved under the Stewardship Scheme. Unfortunately farmers faith in environmental schemes has recently been severely shaken by unnecessary regulation and the effective entrapment of land in totally uneconomic use. We must assist the Government to restore their faith.

"Land voluntarily entered into environmental schemes in the past can now be caught by the Environmental Impact Assessment, and denied the right to return to productive farming. It has all created the perverse situation whereby the better your land does in environmental terms, the more danger you are in of losing the right to determine future use of your own land.

"Equally perverse, is the fact that some rural areas, environmental pressure groups demand that eco systems are maintained which are dependent on lost or uneconomic farming practices. Agri-environmental schemes must offer their participants a proper return for their effort and resources - i.e. profit. The environment must be seen as a competitive use of their land.

"Farmers have always been notoriously good at responding to commercial stimuli. In contrast to resentful compliance with regulation, environmental incentive and voluntary involvement clearly works. No regulation ever built a wall, planted a hedge or bred a Red Kite.

"It is going to be important to be able to re-assure farmers and land managers that by entering agri-environment schemes, they are not laying themselves open to unexpected consequences and permanently devaluing their land."


For further information please contact Richard Bailey or Pippa Kidson Trigg on 020 7460 7935 or mobiles 07714 756215 / 07889 912881

Notes to Editors:

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme 10th Anniversary Conference is being held at Kew Gardens on Thursday 18th April 2002. Further details are available from Defra press office.