Amendment 212

Part of Environment Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 7th July 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Boycott Baroness Boycott Crossbench 9:45 pm, 7th July 2021

I support Amendment 212 and all amendments that join ELMS and nature recovery plans. Farming, as we know, is responsible for practically all biodiversity loss, and all the intensive farming that is going on has to cease.

My worry about ELMS was reflected at the Groundswell conference, where this year there were nearly 5,000 farmers. There were many talks going on and many people were extremely concerned about when ELMS would come in, how it was going to work and how they were going to be paid. As far as I know, only one of the pilot schemes has actually started to deliver any sums of money. A sum of £47 per hectare for better soil was being proposed through the Landworkers’ Alliance, at which most farmers turned round and said: “That’s simply not enough. How can I refigure my entire future to make my land biodiverse and nature-friendly when I don’t know what kind of support I’m going to have?” It seems crucial for us to have the sort of joined-up thinking that is in the amendment. I urge the Government to say when there will be clarity for farmers about what kind of support they can have so that they can shift their farming mechanisms to protect biodiversity.

On the question of local authorities, what is happening a lot in our area is that people are creating driveways and putting up barns in the middle of the countryside. These then become stalking horses—a cattle barn then needs a house for someone to live beside it. We have one of these very close to where we live. We have all been objecting because there is a problem with the stream: there is runoff. They are proposing to have 300 cows in there but they do not need it as there are brownfield sites and disused farms around that could be used instead. Everyone seems to be powerless and not have a leg to stand on. This is an important amendment and I hope the Government will be able to incorporate it when the Bill comes back to us again.