Written evidence submitted by the Campaign
for National Parks
1. Thank you for the opportunity to submit
evidence and views to your inquiry into Farming in the Uplands.
The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) is the national charity
that campaigns to protect and promote National Parks for the benefit
and quiet enjoyment of all.
2. CNP is very interested in farming in
the uplands because of the strong connection between upland farming
and the cultural and natural landscapes found in our National
Parks. Of the 10 National Parks in England, seven are in the uplands.
The stunning and diverse beauty of these landscapes is in no small
part due to the hard work of hill farmers and their farming systems
over many hundreds of years.
3. The Commission for Rural Communities
(CRC) report "High Ground: High PotentialA future
for England's upland communities" is a very timely contribution
to the debate on the future of the uplands and their communities.
There are significant drivers of change that have an impact on
our upland environment and peoplefrom climate change, changes
in demography and technology, and of course economic and political
change. There is a pressing need to ensure that upland farmers
are well-equipped to respond positively to these drivers, so that
the role they have in providing a range of valued benefits for
society can continue to grow.
4. Economic sustainability is one of the
most important issues facing upland farmers. Today, the income
of most upland farmers is made up of a combination of market returns,
onand off-farm diversification activities, and public support
from the CAP's Single Payment Scheme and agri-environment payments.
It is likely that the overall budget of the CAP will decline,
from 2013, as will the ability of the UK Government to co-finance
agri-environment schemes. To stay in business many farmers will
need to seek alternative sources of income. Public funding will
also need to be targeted more tightly to farming activities that
provide genuine public benefit.
5. CNP agrees with the CRC report that the
uplands, and upland National Parks in particular, should be seen
as areas of considerable potential and opportunity for their farming
communities. The "new agenda" in the uplands is one
that recognises the very wide range of essential benefits and
services the uplands provide for society: natural resources like
clean water, food, timber and energy; carbon storage to help to
mitigate climate change; inspiring places to escape to from busy
city lives; and natural systems that can help to buffer the impacts
of extreme weather events such as floods and fires.
6. There are some excellent examples from
National Parks where farmers have already adopted this new agenda,
and are working to deliver a suite of other benefits alongside
food production, and being paid to do so. For example, the SCAMP
project in the Lake District is using a mix of funding sourcessecured
from the water company, agri-environment and woodland grant schemesto
support farmers to graze sustainably, create new native woodland
and restore their blanket bogs. This innovative funding has been
approved by Ofwat, because it will reduce the costs of water treatment
for customers, while at the same time improving carbon storage
and wildlife habitatsa real win-win.
7. Such examples however are all too infrequent.
Government policies and funding support need to make it easier
for upland farmers to take part in such innovative arrangements
and provide a wider range of benefits. Some farmers may need to
change aspects of their farm system and management techniques,
and forge new partnerships with neighbouring farms and businesses,
to secure landscape-wide benefits and the payments for delivering
them. Government policies, and the agencies that deliver them,
need to support farmers in embracing the new agenda in the uplands,
and avoid policies such as those that in the past focussed on
supporting one benefit (eg livestock production) often at the
expense of others (eg wildlife and clean water).
8. National Parks can demonstrate how such
integrating policies could work. The CRC report calls for an approach
to the uplands and their communities that recognises distinctiveness
of place; that uses locally informed knowledge and expertise;
and that is focussed on investing in the potential offered by
these places. It recommends a new integrated strategy for the
uplands. National Park Management Plans are an excellent vehicle
through which such an "integrated strategy" can be achieved
for a distinctive cultural and natural landscape. The Lake District's
new five year management plan has been developed in partnership
with a very wide range of organisations, businesses and local
communities. It is a model for how this approach could work in
other places and should be encouraged and supported. This would
be compatible with the Government's policy that the Authorities
should ensure they are exemplars in achieving sustainable development
(paragraph 28, 2010 National Parks Circular).
9. CNP therefore agrees with CRC's recommendation
that the role and value of the National Park Authorities should
be increased, because they already strive for the integrated approach
called for in the report. However, we do not believe that it is
necessary to alter the statutory purposes of the National Park
Authorities to achieve this. National Parks are already required
to undertake their twin purposes (of conservation and public enjoyment)
in a way that fosters the social and economic well-being of local
communities. We have no evidence to suggest that a new statutory
purpose on social and economic well-being is necessary. We note
that paragraph 11 of the 2010 National Parks Circular states that
"the statutory purposes and duty of the Authorities remain
10. CNP is extremely concerned about the
impact that the Government's proposed spending cuts will have
on National Park Authorities. Significant cuts could reduce, rather
than increase, the ability of National Park Authorities to undertake
meaningful engagement with local communities, including hill farmers.
11. Summary of key points. We recommend
that the Committee includes in its report:
A call for improved support for upland
farmers that is focussed on helping them to embrace the "new
agenda" in the uplands, and access payments for delivering
a wider range of ecosystem services.
A proposal to develop the National Parks
and National Park Authorities as test beds for new approaches
to integrating environment, economy and community.
Advice that the role and value of National
Park Authorities can be increased without amending their statutory
An expression of concern about the impact
that funding cuts could have on the ability of National Park Authorities
to undertake meaningful engagement with communities at all levels,
including hill farmers.