West Country trialling new policies for managing our countryside after Brexit...

THE WEST Country is trialling new policies for managing our countryside after Brexit.

Exmoor National Park Authority, backed by the Exmoor Hill Farming Network, conservationists and local public bodies, has launched its blueprint, christened ‘Exmoor’s Ambition’, for sustaining and enhancing landscapes and communities following the UK’s exit from the EU.

The proposed ‘funding and branding’ model aims to show a clean break with the traditional EU models.

Robin Milton, chair of the National Park Authority, said: “Sharing the goals laid out in the Government plan to pass on the world-class landscape to the next generation in a better state than we received it, this proposal provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to forge more effective ways of protecting Exmoor’s finest landscapes, while revitalising its communities and economies.

“The proposal outlines a simpler, more integrated and local policy, incentivising all the public benefits provided by the countryside.”

The scheme’s aims are:

– Harness the concept of ‘natural capital’ (what nature gives us) to draw value out of Exmoor’s unique features.

– Use trust and cooperation to replace regulation and form-filling.

– Encourage new thinking, especially from the next generation.

– Make sure it’s co-designed and delivered by farmers and land managers Exmoor’s Ambition is a structure of two integrated measures.

Mr Milton said: “The first – ‘Good Farming’ – would be available to all farmers and reward them for managing their land in ways that are good for nature and people.

“The second – ‘Enhanced Benefits’ – would target specific objectives such as enhancing heather moorland for wildlife, improving coastal access for walkers, planting and managing woodland, reducing flooding and encouraging entrepreneurial businesses.

“A funded programme would improve Exmoor produce itself, with a new product strategy and improved supply chain strategy in place for the area.”

All Exmoor hill farmers will be offered a sign that signals their role in farming the landscape. NFU South West regional director Mel Squires said: “The system proposed puts forward a way to provide a fair reward for delivering a range of public goods and services, with competitive food production being at the centre of these.”

Mr Milton said: “This is a farmer-based approach designed to enhance the landscape and generate optimum return for Exmoor.

“We’ve united the local community in this ambition for Exmoor and based our plans on what the landscape and our local business networks have to offer.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.