Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by LARA (the Motoring Organisations’ Land Access & Recreation Association) (AB66)

Summary

Experience shows us that there is a serious risk of any new scheme of farm payments causing unforeseen and collateral damage to sport and recreation in the countryside. It has happened before, and we ask Parliament to build-in safeguards in this new legislation.

1. The Motoring Organisations’ Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) is an umbrella organisation (founded in 1986) advising and sometimes representing leading national organisations in motor sport. Our members have experienced occasional, but serious, problems with their land use arising from earlier agri-environment schemes. We are looking to prevent this happening again.

2. Motor sport at local and club-based level depends to a great degree on the generosity of farmers and other landowners, giving occasional access to their land for motor sport events. There is usually (but not always) payment, but the rural community has a tradition of accommodating motor and equestrian events, and local shows and fundraisers, at a sub-commercial level.

3. In planning terms these events are a ‘temporary change of use’, engaging ‘permitted development rights’. There is no permanent change to the land used, and while agri-environment schemes can readily envisage and accommodate built facilities, temporary changes of use are less visible and tend to be overlooked, to their detriment.

4. Over the years our members’ events have sporadically had problems arising from the application of variously, Entry Level Stewardship, Higher Level Stewardship, Set-Aside, and the Single Payment Scheme. This culminated in 2005-6 when LARA was obliged to seek judicial review of the Government’s guidance on the Single Payment Scheme because, as published, it wrongly indicated that no occasional motor sport could take place on land in the Scheme, without the landowner losing some, or potentially all, of his or her payment. The guidance was changed, and the later Basic Payment Scheme has not caused us any reported problems.

5. We appreciate that the Agriculture Bill is enabling legislation, and that the detail will be in Regulations. We are therefore asking the Public Bill Committee to propose to amend the Bill such that ‘recreational use’ of land is therein acknowledged as a valuable social and economic benefit that needs to be provided for in the Regulations and Guidance, insofar as there is no irreconcilable conflict with express conservation requirements.

6. Making this amendment would be consistent with the promotion of and provision for the health and well-being of the community.

7. We would be pleased to appear before the Committee to give oral evidence if this assists.

November 2018

Author: Alan Kind on behalf of the Motoring Organisations’ Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA)

 

Prepared 16th November 2018