7th March 2020


Rural Rap

STATISTIC OF THE WEEK: The true costs of fly-tipping are believed to be between £100M-£150M each year

A MAN HAS BEEN JAILED AFTER BEING CAUGHT PERSISTENTLY FLY-TIPPING ACROSS EAST KENT, reports Kent Online.  Rodney Matthews plead guilty to five offences across Folkestone, Romney Marsh and Dover, and was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison.  He has also been ordered to surrender his vehicle and pay a victim surcharge of £115.  The five offences were in Swingfield (x2), Dymchurch, Wootton, Hawkinge.  read more…

THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE HAS SUBMITTED ITS RECOMMENDATION REGARDING THE CONTROVERSIAL CLEVE HILL SOLAR PARK IN FAVERSHAM, reports the Kent Messenger. Whether or not the recommendation, which is made confidentially to the energy secretary, is for or against the proposals is “too close to call,” according to campaigners.  Plans to contruct what would be Britain’s biggest solar farm on almost 1,000 acres of stunning farmland and marshes in Graveney were scrutunised last year with almost universal opposition.  What has been advised will not be made public until a decision is made in three months’ time.  read more…

THERE HAS BEEN SPATE OF THEFT OF LIGHT STOLEN FROM LAND ROVERS IN THE CANTERBURY DISTRICT, reports Kent Police.  Vehicle owners are being urged to be vigilant following reports of seven thefts of rear lights from Land Rover Discovery vehicles between 25th February and 3rd March.  The thefts are all believed to have taken place overnight, with most being in Canterbury and Whitstable, though other reports have come in from Herne Bay and Adisham.  The police are urging anyone who has a Land Rover, in particular a Mark 4 Discovery, to take reasonable precautions.   read more…

KENT SHOULD BE “RECOGNISED AS THE ENGLISH REGION THAT SUSTAINABLY PRODUCES, SELLS AND SERVES THE FINEST LOCAL FOOD,” writes Produced in Kent.  The group is working hard to produce a Strategy 2020-2023 document, which will be published later this month.  The strategy will consider how best to represent, promote and support a booming food and drink industry in an environment where economic uncertainty and climate change provide challenges, but also opportunities.  PinK also plans to develop a tailored business support package for its members, to help them grow, diversify and “give back.”   read more…

THE RURAL SECTOR IS BRACING FOR “SIGNIFICANT CHANGE” IN NEXT WEEK’S BUDGET, reports Farming UK.  A number of critical countryside issues have been flagged up.  These include the possibility of a fuel duty rise after an almost ten-year freeze; a review and reform of Entrepreneurs’ Relief; changes to Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief; and a reduced threshold on the Annual Investment Allowance. On the plus side, there is the prospect of an increase in the Structures and Buildings Allowance.
read more…

FARMERS HAVE REACTED WITH FURY AND ASTONISHMENT TO FRESH REPORTS OF CHANGES TO FUEL DUTY IN THE BUDGET, reports Farmers Weekly.  The reports that Rishi Sunak is to scrap the lower rate of fuel duty on red diesel – 11.1p/litre, and charge users the full 57.7p/litre fuel tax at next week’s Budget have triggered outrage and anger.  If implemented, average farm diesel prices would rise to over 98p/litre – an almost 50% rise in the cost of fuel – and would exceed £1/litre if oil prices return to January levels.  The NFU argue that removing this from British farmers would leave them at an immediate competitive disadvantage.   read more…

HADLOW COLLEGE HAS CANCELLED ITS ANNUAL LAMBING EVENT DUE TO CORONAVIRUS FEARS, reports the Kent Messenger.  Last year Hadlow welcomed 10,000 visitors to last year’s lambing weekend.  This year’s event was due to take place on March 14th and 15th.  The College said that although it had not experienced any cases of the virus, the action is being taken as a precautionary measure.  Anyone who had pre-bought tickets will get a full refund.  The lambing weekend at the High Weald Academy in Cranbrook for 21st and 22nd March is still scheduled to go ahead.  read more…

FEARS ARE MOUNTING OVER THE IMPACT OF THE CORONAVIRUS ON GLOBAL TRADE, reports the Grocer.  Food and drink exporters believe disruption at ports could hit UK sales to China, worth £600m in 2018, while importers are concerned that UK supply chains could be hit if the virus continues to spread in Europe.  However, the FDF notes that while supply chains have experienced some disruption, there is “no evidence of significant disruption to food supplies,” and it believes that UK food and drink manufacturers have “robust procedures in place” to prevent shortages.  UK supermarkets have drawn up contingency “feed the nation” plans, but more physical checks on people and goods at cargo ports could have a dramatic effect on food imports.   read more…

A SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL IS UNDER FIRE FOR SUGGESTING THAT BRITAIN DOES NOT NEED ITS OWN AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY, reports Farming UK among others.  Treasury official Dr Tim Leunig is reported to have argued that the food and farming industry is not “critically important” to the UK’s economy, in leaked emails to the Mail on Sunday.   The economic adviser said that the UK could follow Singapore’s model post-Brexit, which is “rich without having its own agricultural sector.”  The comments were described as “completely out of touch” by NFU President Minette Batters, and politicians and industry figures were quick to vent their frustration and disbelief at the comments.   read more…

EXTREME RAINFALL MAY PUSH UP FOOD PRICES AND PILE PRESSURE ON FARM FINANCES, reports the Telegraph.  Parts of Britain have been left underwater by recent prolonged downpours, which may cause shortages of homegrown produce as farmers have been unable to sow.  Indeed, the AHDB says time is running out for farmers to save the harvest with spring planting.  Rain in the autumn and winter has been at a 30-year high with more than twice the number of continuous rain days compared with last year.  A worst-case scenario forecasts just a 9mt wheat harvest.  Retailers played down the likelihood of a surge in food prices, saying supermarkets are skilled at finding alternative suppliers and are ready to absorb higher costs.   read more…

HEDGEROW GRANTS - Old Chalk New Downs

This year the Old Chalk New Downs project is offering a grant specifically for gapping up and planting of hedgerows. 
Planting for hedgerows runs from 1st November to 31st March, so the project is still taking last minute applications for this season, as well as for next. 
The project has the following objectives:

  • to restore historic hedgerows
  • to increase habitat connectivity and facilitate species movement
  • to interrupt surface flows of water and reduce run-off which may contribute to localised flooding

The grant will fund up to 90% of the proposal costs and will not fund hedge planting already funded through Countryside Stewardship agreements or any other trust or foundation. 

For further information, please contact OCND@kent.gov.uk   


20th March: Understanding Soil Health & Regenerative Agriculture
Farmers and landowners in the Stour River catchment are invited to attend this free event with guest speaker Niels Corfield.  As well as being an adviser, soil researcher and technician, Niels also carries out soil monitoring for PFLA across the UK.  The workshop will look at improving soil health, improving soil drainage and water holding, reducing reliance on external inputs, identifying opportunities for outwintering livestock, applying soil health principles to grow healthier crops and consistent yields, and getting feedback on farm. 

Kindly hosted by: Pent Farm, Postling, Kent CT21 4EY

9.30am to 3.30pm; lunch will be provided
For further information, please contact debbie.reynolds@kent.gov.uk / 03000 410 900
To register (booking is essential): https://regenerativeagricultureinthestourcatchment.eventbrite.co.uk

5th April: Romney Marsh Wools Open Day
There will be opportunity to meet the lambs, as well as to find out more and about the sheep and life on the farm.  There will be Kentish crafts, food and drink available on the day from specially selected producers, plus activities for children of all ages, including the chance to have your photo taken in a tractor.  There will be a cookery demo from Julie Friend, Master Chef 2009.  The sponsored charity will, once again, be RABI.

FREE Entry
11.00am to 3.00pm
Rushfield, Giggers Green Road, Aldington, Kent TN25 7BT

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