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ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES
27 November 1998
COMMITTEE FOR RURAL HAMPSHIRE - ANNUAL RURAL ISSUES REPORT
Report by Stephen Olivant, Head of Planning and Development, East Hampshire District Council and Rosalind Rutt, Secretary, Committee for Rural Hampshire
This short annual report to the Association meeting is from the Committee for Rural Hampshire. Presentation to the meeting will be by Mrs Susan Band from Hart District Council, Mrs Jean Vernon-Jackson from New Forest District Council and Mrs Rosalind Rutt a planner at Hampshire County Council. The report deals with two current rural issues as follows:
1. WHOLE FARM PLANS
What is a Whole Farm Plan?
A Whole Farm Plan is a document which brings together all the aspects of running a farm as a business. It allows farmers and their advisors to look at all the assets of the farm, including the land, buildings, management systems, natural features and all other resources. The Plan is designed to guide the effective running and future business development of the farm. It considers the surrounding landscape and wildlife and helps to set achievable aims and objectives for the future.
In West Sussex, a partnership of local authorities and other agencies has taken the lead in setting up a pilot scheme for Whole Farm Plans to be prepared for farms in their area.
In Hampshire, the independent Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) has started to offer a broadly similar farm planning service, but it is angled towards environmental issues.
What is the benefit of a Whole Farm Plan?
It provides farmers, advisors and others with a complete picture of the farm.
It enables an integrated approach to be taken when planning a viable farm enterprise.
It helps farmers to assess their own land management, stewardship and efficiency.
It encourages the adoption of best practice, for example pollution control and safety.
It takes account of environmental issues, grant aid and diversification options.
It provides valuable background information for grant aid and planning applications.
How is a Whole Farm prepared?
In the West Sussex scheme, farmers are put in touch with a network of local advisors which is co-ordinated by a working group of authorities. This contact with the farmer is run on a "one-stop shop" basis. The advisors will visit the farm for a half-day and produce a free report. This report can stand alone as the outline Whole Farm Plan, or lead to further detailed reports if necessary. An information leaflet on this scheme is published by the Rural Development Commission.
The FWAG scheme is modular, it consists of three modules: a free half-day visit and initial Report; a Review; and a complete Plan (costed at £230 per day). This advisory work is focused upon helping farmers meet the environmental challenge and is undertaken by the two FWAG advisors in Hampshire. An information leaflet on this LANDWISE scheme is published by FWAG.
Why should local authorities get involved?
Dealing with farmers and rural landowners becomes much easier for the local authority when there is a common understanding of the pressures and opportunities facing the farming community and individuals within that sector. A Whole Farm Plan accompanying a planning application would add clarity to process because it would enable the local authority to understand the context and the longer-term implications. For example, an application to diversify a particular farm's income by environmental improvements and by developing farm-based tourism would be easier to understand and decide upon. Whole Farm Plans could also be linked to other rural initiatives, such as Village Design Statements, to give a valuable picture of how people (farmers and villagers) think about the physical, social economic and environmental issues in their locality. This picture could enable a better local understanding of the different types of lifestyles and aspirations (rural and suburban) which have developed in rural Hampshire.
2. AGENDA 2000
What is Agenda 2000?
Agenda 2000 is a document from the European Commission which sets out proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The proposals continue the shift from the present system of payments supporting production to a future system of supporting the sustainable development of rural areas by payments linked to agri-environmental measures. This would be accompanied by the development of an integrated rural policy covering all areas of the European Union.
What effect would this have on Hampshire?
The Hampshire Farming Study highlighted the potentially severe impact of future changes to the CAP on Hampshire's rural economy, landscape, wildlife and rural communities. The present support from the CAP is of prime importance to Hampshire's rural economy. In 1997, farmers in Hampshire received nearly £40 million from various CAP schemes, most of which was paid to support the prices of agricultural commodities.
What is the view of the Committee for Rural Hampshire on Agenda 2000?
The Committee joined with other Hampshire organisations in welcoming the principle of reforming the CAP, but also expressing concerns about the details of the European Commission's proposals. The Committee considers that a more fundamental reform is needed to shift resources and support a more diversified rural economy, sustainable land management and vibrant rural communities in areas such as Hampshire. This reform would require a more integrated rural policy and would stimulate a more competitive and environmentally-friendly farming sector.
How is Agenda 2000 being dealt with in Hampshire?
The Committee for Rural Hampshire has supported Hampshire County Council's representations in Europe and the United Kingdom about changes in agricultural and rural development policies. There has been widespread interest in these representations at national and European levels. Lobbying has included a delegation to Brussels, evidence to sub-committees at the House of Commons and the House of Lords, contact with MPs, MEPs and senior Government officials, and a special display at the Royal Agricultural Show.
What are the next steps for the Committee for Rural Hampshire on Agenda 2000?
The Committee will continue to take an active interest in the proposed changes to the CAP which impact upon Hampshire. It will seek to work with individual and partner organisations to influence the changes. Working with the local authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be of vital importance.
Head of Planning and Development, East Hampshire District Council
Secretary, Committee for Rural Hampshire
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