NFU gives evidence at Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into biodiversity and ecosystems

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NFU Environment Forum representative Caroline Knox gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystems’ inquiry on 12 November.

The inquiry was launched in July looking at how best to protect and enhance biodiversity while considering nature-based solutions to climate change.

Caroline, a farmer from the Isle of Wight, represented the NFU’s Environment Forum alongside panellists from the National Trust, the LGA and Balfour Beatty.

Subjects discussed during the session included the future policy landscape, ELMs, biodiversity net gain and tree planting. The Committee’s questioning focused on the practical implementation of these policies.

Pictured above: Caroline Knox, NFU Environment Forum

Caroine highlighted the current complex policy landscape, which included the Agriculture and Environment Bills, ELMs, the Nature Recovery Network and planning reforms, and stressed the need for clarity on how they all fitted together. She also used the opportunity to discuss the joint farming organisations proposals for a Sustainable Food and Farming Scheme, which should form the scope and approach of the government’s forthcoming ELMs programme.

In addition, Caroline set out that biodiversity net gain could be an opportunity to farmers, but had been designed with developers in mind and could impact negatively on farmers when applying for planning permission.

On tree planting, she highlighted that land is a farmer’s only asset, used to produce food and raise an income. She said that farmers should be able to choose how they manage their land, but set out the opportunities, which included hedge management and management of existing woodland.

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