Defra cuts red tape for farmers

UK - Biodiversity Minister Barry Gardner has announced new farmer-friendly measures to help cut red tape and protect the rural environment.
calendar icon 20 September 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

The new rules, designed to protect wildlife and landscape and to make the rules simpler for farmers and land managers, set out to:

  • replace existing rules which protect uncultivated and semi-natural land from being damaged or destroyed by more intensive farming;

  • introduce new EU-wide rules which guard against possible negative environmental impacts from large scale work such as adding or digging up field boundaries such as ditches and fences.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations 2006 will boost Defra's efforts to conserve and enhance the countryside. They will complement measures such as agri-environment schemes, sites of special scientific interest and existing laws to protect habitats and landscape.

“The new regulations are a good example of Defra making law which protects the environment whilst minimising red tape for farmers,” said Mr Gardiner. “Farmers found the old rules on uncultivated and semi-natural land confusing - the new rules will be clearer, with more farmer-friendly definitions, and we have cut red tape by introducing thresholds below which the rules will not apply.

“The new rules on restructuring will guard against the possibility of major negative effects on the rural landscape, but they will not catch farmers engaging in routine farming activities.”

The rules will apply when work is likely to cause significant damage to the environment. Anyone wishing to undertake such work will have to apply to the new Natural England agency to determine whether an environmental impact assessment is required.

The new regulations will only apply initially to England . Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland will introduce similar legislation in the next few months.

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