Response to Government’s Agricultural Transition Plan

1st December 2020

Yesterday the Government announced its Agricultural Transition Plan following the Agriculture Act gaining royal assent.

The Act was heralded as a new start to move away from the widely condemned EU wide Common Agricultural Policy from January 2021. We hoped this announcement would bring rapid, positive changes for our natural world and for tackling the climate crisis as agriculture makes up 70% of land use. However, we are concerned that the announcement appears instead to promise yet more years of discussion.

The Wildlife Trusts urge the Government to move faster to reverse nature’s decline.

Derbyshire is famous for its beautiful countryside - our wild open spaces are enjoyed by millions of people every year and farmed for crops, dairy and livestock. With EU funding, the Government pays landowners to farm and look after land with wildlife and its home in mind. However - even with these schemes - birds, insects and mammals continue to decline across much of the UK. The development of a new Agricultural Act was seen as the biggest opportunity in a generation to make the changes our natural world and climate crisis desperately need. But following today’s announcement, detail about how landowners can be rewarded and encouraged to do more is still awaited.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust cares for 48 reserves across the county and offers environmentally friendly farming advice to hundreds of businesses throughout the year.

Dr Jo Smith, chief executive for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust says:

“We are deeply concerned about the lack of detail and that further information could still be years away. Farmers, landowners and those of us who care for wild places are still none the wiser and continue to be frustrated by the schemes, which makes it harder to plan for a wilder future. Nature is in peril, we are in a climate crisis and we still do not see how the Government’s new agricultural policy will bring about the changes we all need.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts says:

“The ongoing demise of the natural world is bad for us all. The free services that nature provides us are under huge pressure. Pollinators continue to decline, soils continue to be degraded and biodiversity continues to crash. The Common Agricultural Policy wreaked devastation on our wildlife whilst causing deep seated issues in farming communities by affecting rents and production. We must not spend the next few years just talking; nature needs the help promised by this government and we cannot afford to waste any more time.

To hear more about these issues, you are invited to join The Wildlife Trusts Wednesday 2nd December, 7pm – 8.30pm for an online debate about farming and wildlife with these speakers:

  • Minette Batters, President NFU
  • Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Farming, Sustain
  • Stephen Honeywood, farmer and part of the Jordans Farm Partnership
  • Janet Hughes, Programme Director for Future Farming and Countryside, Defra
  • James Adler, Director of biodiversity, Surrey Wildlife Trust
  • Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts and chair of the debate

Please register to attend or join direct on the day here.