NFU welcomes Defra backing for Dartmoor land use group

12 April 2024

Environment and climate
Moorland countryside with a granite rock formation

A view across Dartmoor from Haytor

The NFU has welcomed the Government's response to the independent review of the management of Dartmoor, which was published this week.

The response backs the creation of a Land Use Management Group (LUMG) for the moors, to encourage positive working relationships and help farmers deliver for food production, the environment and wider public goods.

Setting up a LUMG was one of the key recommendations of the independent review, which was chaired by David Fursdon, and it is vital that the NFU is included in its development.

Food production considered

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay recently met with NFU president Tom Bradshaw, commoners and other stakeholders to discuss the long-term vision for the management of Dartmoor.

NFU South uplands chair Mat Cole said: “As someone who farms on Dartmoor every day, I am pleased with the well thought out recommendations from Defra for the future of protected sites. It is evident that food production, alongside environmental delivery and the range of public goods farmers provide across Dartmoor, has been considered.

“The success of the LUMG depends on farmers voices continuing to be heard, particularly as we transition to new environmental support schemes.

It is also critical that Defra has continued oversight of Natural England’s relationships with stakeholders to ensure a positive way of working.”

Open and transparent discussion

Mr Fursdon said he was pleased the Government supported many of the recommendations made by the independent review, but those responsible for the future of Dartmoor needed to “come together in an open and transparent way, to discuss the practical steps necessary to restore and enhance this special place.”

“We look forward to working with the Government further on the vision for Dartmoor. Farmers are part of the solution, and we can work together to produce food, boost biodiversity and look after the environment.”

Mat Cole, NFU South uplands chair

He added: “This will require careful management, properly funded. This is their chance. They may not get another.”

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I’ve heard first-hand the challenges faced by all those who live and work on Dartmoor, and our response sets out how we will ensure that farmers remain central to ensuring that we have healthy and varied habitats on Dartmoor which work in harmony with food production.”

Further response priorities

Other priorities set out in the response include boosting farmers’ confidence in Environmental Land Management schemes – including those transitioning from Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements – encouraging collaborative relationships between Natural England and commoners, and backing a robust strategy and long-term governance for Dartmoor.

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