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:

First, I do not think they should be recruited by Natural England or the RPA. Within the supply chain, there are probably sufficient people. An agronomist has to be trained and to get your agronomy diploma you have to do a BETA—biodiversity and environmental training for advisers—certificate in conservation management. It is only a three-day course, but it is about awareness. Whoever is drawing up the scheme will need to pull on other skills and pull and bring the environmental community and the farming community together. A good person does that already. I do not think you need a new qualification. The qualifications are there. The BETA certificate in conservation management and that type of approach already addresses some of the issues. It would probably need an upland module and a little bit more focus on grassland, because it is an arable-focused course.

I also believe that it is Natural England or the RPA’s responsibility, if they get a bad application, to send it back. I went to DEFRA and Natural England about eight years ago and asked for that to happen and it never did. Natural England continues to re-work bad applications. Once you do that, the farming community will soon know not to go to that person. It doesn’t need degree level; it needs an element of a qualification, a CV and management by a managing authority that is not afraid to take people off the list if they are not doing the job properly.