Natural England Chair Tony Juniper has visited farmers in Wensleydale today, who have been working with Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) on the Payment by Results (PbR) pilot.
The results-based approach which has been piloted in Wensleydale and East Anglia has allowed the 34 participating farmers the freedom the choose how they manage their land to enhance the environment.
The pilot was rolled out at the start of 2016 across two areas in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire and in Norfolk and Suffolk in the east of England with clear environmental objectives to match the needs of each area. Through the pilot, advice and training sessions have been provided by Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The first major assessment of this pilot, published today, has shown the project is boosting local wildlife and motivating farmers to develop nature-friendly practices.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:
“I am greatly encouraged by how well the results-based approach has worked under this pilot. It sends a clear message we should be giving farmers and land managers greater flexibility and autonomy to deliver the best results for the environment that go hand in hand with their farming business.
“For too long our farmers have been subject to the red tape of the Common Agricultural Policy which has impeded innovation and stifled productivity. As we leave the EU we have a fantastic opportunity to create an ambitious new system that rewards farmers for public goods we all value.”
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:
“Today’s report shows that if we support our farmers with the right kind of training and guidance then we can achieve really positive results for wildlife. Farmers must be front and centre in efforts to restore the natural environment and these results reveal huge potential for the future.
“Meeting farmers in Wensleydale today I have been struck by the resourcefulness and passion this pilot has inspired to deliver for nature on working farms.
“The results-based approach has seen clear objectives being met and exceeded by farmers who have worked in the way that works best for their whole farm.”
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Deputy Chair and farmer Neil Heseltine said:
“This report shows that a “payment by results” approach can produce fantastic environmental benefits as well as strengthening trust between farmers and government agencies.
“The project has demonstrated just how important it is to have trusted local advisers who can provide the training and support to empower and incentivise the farmers, enabling them to farm in a way that’s a success for their business and for nature.
“We’re absolutely delighted that Defra is now directly funding an extension of the original EU-funded pilots for a further two and a half years. That will give time to refine the approach and to use the expertise of farmers in the Yorkshire Dales to help to shape future environmental policy.”