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Farmland (Conversion)

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the progress of the pilot scheme administered by the Countryside Commission in which farmers are paid to convert land for wildlife or recreational use.

The countryside premium scheme which was launched last June is currently operating on a pilot basis in seven counties in eastern England. Under these arrangements farmers who have taken land out of agriculture production under the set-aside scheme administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, agree to take prescribed measures to manage the land in ways which will be beneficial to wildlife, the local community and the landscape. I have been delighted with the response to the scheme so far. In less than a year since the scheme was launched agreements have been signed with 115 farmers covering nearly 15 per cent. of the land eligible for the premium scheme.