Farming is a land based rural business, with farmers acting as custodians for the countryside. It is the land they own and or farm, which wider communities value as a landscape and cultural resource, as well as to promote a low carbon economy.
Future farming development offers further potential for environmental improvements, water management and habit creation, and additional income that can then be spent on more farm maintenance and improvement.
The best and most versatile agricultural land (land in grades 1,2 and 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification) is the resource we need to ensure a sustainable and more efficient farming system.
It's also important to recognise that agricultural land can also sometimes be put forward for other beneficial use to support the farm unit.
When making planning decisions, a careful balance therefore needs to be struck. Strategic planning decisions can also indirectly impact on the best and most versatile agricultural land, for example if additional development leads to agricultural land being flooded.
The use of renewable energy can reduce reliance on the grid and provide local energy supplies to rural communities as well as for direct farming needs. The provision of reservoirs and other water storage systems can ensure farmers can continue to farm in times of drought and additional water demand.
The message is that there needs to be a proactive approach within the town planning system that seeks to ensure future farming is promoted and does not set up unnecessary barriers to stop development in the countryside.
The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development and the NFU welcomes the promotion of a positive planning system to help deliver future farming in planning application decision making and development plans.