Examination of Witness

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 13th February 2020.

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George Monbiot:

The public goods agenda is something useful that we can build on. It is a massive improvement on the common agricultural policy, but it must be much more explicit about what public goods are. Carbon storage, as a metric, must run throughout it like a stick of rock, but also ecological restoration—we do not want to make it just about carbon. We want to maximise the recovery of wildlife and ecosystems, which are in such a dire state in this country.

It must be recognised that the ecological difference between farming and not farming, particularly in the uplands, is far greater than the ecological difference between, say, BPS sheep farming and HLS sheep farming, which is very small in ecological terms. Having a cessation of farming in those areas, bringing back many of the missing species and having an ecosystem dominated by trees and other thick vegetation would be massively better, in terms of both carbon and ecology, than a modification of farming in those places.