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Nature Conservation

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to support investment in upland management in respect of water quality and wildlife. (263640)

Within DEFRA’s agri-environment schemes—Environmental Stewardship and the predecessor schemes, Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas—funding is available for environmental management in the uplands which will contribute to improving water quality and biodiversity. This includes, for instance, the management of moorland, upland rough grazing, grip blocking, moorland re-wetting, heather management restoration and maintenance of upland dry stone walls.

The Secretary of State has also recently announced the introduction of a new uplands strand of Environmental Stewardship (Uplands ELS) in 2010, to replace the Hill Farm Allowance. The objective of Uplands ELS includes maintaining and improving the biodiversity and water quality in England’s uplands, by supporting the land management practices which deliver these benefits. Funding for Uplands ELS is expected to be around £25 million per year.

The England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI) aims to help farmers to reduce diffuse pollution from agricultural land through both advice and grants. The ECSFDI is delivered in 50 priority catchments including a number of catchments in England’s uplands. DEFRA is providing funding of £12.9 million for the ECSFDI in 2009-10 of which £5 million is available for capital grants. These grants are for the improvement or installation of facilities that would benefit water quality by reducing diffuse pollution.