To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to develop a system for a full range of public goods; what steps her Department is taking to ensure that system is (a) equitable and (b) transparent; and whether decisions taken under that system will be open to appeal.
The Agriculture Bill will introduce ambitious new schemes in England, based on the principle of “public money for public goods”, which will allow us to reward farmers and land managers who protect our environment, improve animal welfare and produce high quality food in a more sustainable way.
Our Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme is the cornerstone of our new agricultural policy. Founded on the principle of “public money for public goods”, ELM is intended to provide a powerful contribution to achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy.
We are working closely with a range of environmental and agricultural stakeholders to collaboratively design the new ELM scheme so that it is fit for purpose. We are currently running a programme of Tests and Trials, the priorities for which are the building blocks we will need for the National Pilot, due to commence in late 2021 and run to 2024. The National Pilot will provide a critical opportunity to test and refine the scheme design prior to full roll out of the ELM scheme in late 2024 across England.
Clause 3 of the Agriculture Bill provides the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations to check, enforce and monitor the conditions of financial assistance provided under the Bill. This includes the power to establish a mechanism for appealing against decisions. Clauses 4 to 6 of the Bill also require the publication of multi-annual financial assistance plans, annual financial reports and impact and effectiveness reports. This transparency will enable public scrutiny of our future spending plans and the extent to which Government funding for agriculture, horticulture and forestry activities has been delivered on a value for money basis.