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Agri-Environment Schemes

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in increasing the percentage of agricultural land that is farmed under an agri-environment scheme. [16328]

We encourage applications under all our agri-environment schemes. In particular, we expect to approve this year some 1,300 applications under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and almost 1,100 under the ESA scheme, with smaller numbers under the other existing schemes. Details of the area of land concerned are not yet available. In addition, a pilot Arable Stewardship scheme is being introduced in England at the beginning of 1998 to encourage arable farmers to manage their land in ways which will encourage wildlife.All schemes are subject to regular review and consideration is given to any practical suggestions for improving their uptake. The Government consult on their implementation with a wide range of interests.

For the future, the Government see a continuing, and ultimately increased, role for environmental incentive schemes as part of a reformed CAP.