Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:25 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Jim Egan:

My way of answering that would be to look at the fact that in the majority of lowland England, if you split it that way, you will find farmers taking up more than you think, if it is properly rewarded, if it is linked in by the rest of the industry and it is linked together. You quite commonly talk to farmers now who take out anything between 5% and 15% of their land to manage it “for the environment” and also recognise the real benefits of changing what they do: introducing grass lanes to help with grass weed control and to build soil fertility, which helps with cleaner water and so on.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jake that there is a sea change coming. A lot of people stood back, because of the political uncertainty, but they are ready for that. The higher extremes you referenced, such as peat restoration, will be a focus in an area where it can happen, getting those landowners together and talking about it. It will take time. I do not think they are completely divorced and different.

On woodland, it will fit when people start to see natural capital, particularly the natural capital potential of their land, and they have choices of what to do. Then woodland will start to happen, especially where you can get people working together and you can make the links. I would be positive about that.