Advertisement
Environment

Charities label post-Brexit scheme for sustainable farming a ‘huge disappointment’

The National Trust, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts say a long-awaited scheme for paying farmers to manage land sustainably breaks Brexit promises and fails to protect wildlife.

The UK’s largest environmental charities have accused the government of failing to protect nature and wildlife as a new scheme for the sustainable management of land is published.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive, (SFI) from the Department for Environment and Rural affairs, (Defra) sets out how farmers will be paid to manage their land in more sustainable ways to combat climate change.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

The scheme is one of three environmental land management schemes being developed by Defra.

But a “shocking lack of ambition” in the SFI breaks Brexit promises and puts the government’s 25-year environment plan in jeopardy, The Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and the RSPB have said. 

Defra’s plans on sustainable management have been long-awaited, with a shake-up of the subsidy system promised by the government in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Farming accounts for more than 10 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the new plans from Defra had been touted as a way to reduce these emissions and improve land for nature recovery. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Having seen the SFI, the charities have said it is a “huge disappointment” which will not incentivise farmers to manage their land in more climate-friendly ways through activities like tree-planting or re-wetting peat bogs.

The SFI sets out just three environmental standards which farmers will be paid for. This includes grassland soils, arable soils and a moorland grazing standard.

Alice Groom, senior policy officer at the RSPB, said that the two grassland standards are largely focused around “basic good practice” already being used, and offering little in the way of reward for “farmers already trying to do their bit to help nature and tackle climate change”.

The Big Issue Shop

Eco-friendly gift hampers that make a positive impact

The Big Issue has collaborated with Social Stories Club to create limited edition gift hampers. Packed full of treats made by social ventures, this hamper would make the perfect gift for the festive season.

She added that Defra have failed to set out how the scheme will contribute to meeting its own environmental targets such as halting species declines by 2030, and risk the targets being missed. 

Groom says there’s also no indication of how the scheme will ramp up in ambition over time.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “After leaving the EU, we were promised that the billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money given to farmers would be used to improve our natural world. But today’s publication shows a shocking lack of ambition which does very little to address the climate and nature crises. 

Article continues below

“There’s so much that farmers could be rewarded for doing, such as restoring peatlands and employing ambitious measures to prevent soil and pollutants from washing into rivers – to help wildlife and store carbon.

“It’s an absolute scandal that the government has failed to seize this unique and important opportunity to improve farming so it can help restore nature and address the climate crisis.”

Advertisement

Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

Recommended for you

Read All
How to respect the environment when wild swimming
Wild swimming

How to respect the environment when wild swimming

Ten simple steps to help the environment
Sustainability

Ten simple steps to help the environment

Top eco-friendly essentials for festival go-ers
Glastonbury

Top eco-friendly essentials for festival go-ers

How to cool down at home when heatwaves hit
Heatwaves

How to cool down at home when heatwaves hit

Most Popular

Read All
Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living
1.

Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'
2.

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'
3.

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue
4.

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.