Smallholdings: State of the Nation

The county smallholdings estate is generating an operating surplus of £16.1 million from more than 2,500 farms covering an area of 86,700 hectares let as smallholdings.  In the words of the report from which these data are taken: Whilst the data set is incomplete this report indicates that council farms continue to play an important … Continue reading Smallholdings: State of the Nation

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Defra: a challenging brief

The Conversation asked me to write an appreciation of Owen Paterson's tenure as Secretary of State for the Environment. It was published last night under the title, Badgers may cheer Owen Paterson’s exit from Defra, but not everyone feels the same A white, middle-aged, country man who nevertheless forgot to take his wellies to a … Continue reading Defra: a challenging brief

CAP: Agric Fundamentalists v Enviro Fundamentalists – some inconvenient points

Decision week for Defra Secretary Owen Paterson.  He is due to announce the 'modulation' rate for England by the end of the week.  Will it be 9% as the NFU wants, or 15% as the RSPB demands?  Modulation is EU-speak for the amount of farming support that is diverted (modulated) into more general rural development … Continue reading CAP: Agric Fundamentalists v Enviro Fundamentalists – some inconvenient points

The Prince of Wales, Country Life and our countryside heritage

The Conversation is a website sponsored by several universities and others, with the aim of combining academic rigour with journalistic flair. Environment Editor Michael Parker asked me to appraise Prince Charles' editorial in the Country Life, and this is the article published by The Conversation on Friday 15 November 2013. Charles: the future king with … Continue reading The Prince of Wales, Country Life and our countryside heritage

Biodiversity offsetting, peat, conservation covenants and newts on the move

Defra, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued a consultation paper (Green Paper) on biodiversity offsetting and development.  This paper represents a major government commitment to the introduction of biodiversity offsetting as a means to mitigate the environmental impact of development.  Government plans to have definite proposals ready by the end … Continue reading Biodiversity offsetting, peat, conservation covenants and newts on the move

Spending Review 2013: Looking for agriculture, environment or rural? Don’t bother

Chancellor Osborne today set out his Spending Round for 2015-16.  Widely mislabelled as a Comprehensive Spending Review, the review only relates to one year - the year in which the next General Election will take place.  It doesn't offer much hope for the countryside, but there could be some interesting implications for rural property and … Continue reading Spending Review 2013: Looking for agriculture, environment or rural? Don’t bother

Pilot UK Peatland Code

Follow this link for details of an event in London on 10 June to learn about the new Peatland Carbon Code, to meet the team responsible for writing it and to provide your initial thoughts and feedback in preparation for a pilot project to start in September this year.  Or go to this link to … Continue reading Pilot UK Peatland Code