10th July 2020


Rural Rap

HUNDREDS OF TREES IN BLUEBELL-RICH WOODLAND HAVE BEEN ILLEGALLY FELLED, writes the Kent Messenger. Police are investigating after several acres off Scragged Oak Road, Detling, were targeted by loggers who do not own the land.  Those responsible are understood to be selling the timber on Facebook.  The suspects began working at the site in March and have returned on at least two subsequent occasions.  Fly tipping has also now occurred.  kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/hundreds-of-trees-cut-down-by-illegal-loggers-230117/

AREAS OF KENT HAVE SEEN SOME OF THE COUNTRY’S WORST FLY-TIPPING INCIDENTS DURING LOCKDOWN, reports the BBC.  The level of litter and fly-tipping in woodlands during lockdown is harming the countryside and putting nature at risk, according to the Woodland Trust.  At Dering Wood, near Pluckley in Kent, people have chopped down and damaged trees, set up camps and dropped litter and drug waste, as well as digging fire pits.  At Ashenbank in Gravesend, people have been removing the protected great crested newts to take back to their ponds at home.  bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-53319070?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/kent&link_location=live-reporting-story

AN AREA OF COUNTRYSIDE AND GREEN SPACE ALMOST THE SIZE OF CORNWALL HAS BEEN LOST TO DEVELOPMENT OVER 25 YEARS, reports the Times.  Researchers used high-res satellite images to produce the most accurate analysis to date of how the UK landscape has been altered by new housing, roads, industrial facilities, solar farms and other development.  Kent has seen the largest increase in built-up area, with 52.5m2 developed between 1990 and 2015.  Kent is followed by Essex, West Yorkshire and Surrey.  CPRE commented that it was “worryingly easy” for developers to build low-density housing estates that “unnecessarily gobble up our precious greenbelt, local green spaces and grasslands.”   thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/building-costs-uk-green-space-the-size-of-cornwall-26xp88prn

HEDGEROWS SHOULD BE RESTORED TO PRE-WAR LEVELS TO HELP BRITAIN ACHIEVE ITS TARGET OF CARBON NEUTRALITY BY 2050, reports the Times and the Telegraph.  A report from CPRE argues that the restoration of the nation’s hedgerows would help to reduce carbon emissions by capturing greenhouse gases.  The report, which is backed by ministers, calls for millions of pounds to be spent on new hedges with the aim of increasing their total length by 40% by 2050.  The study described hedgerows as “nature’s toolbox” and suggests they are a vital way to revitalising the country’s natural environments.  thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/let-hedges-grow-to-cut-pollution-hts8x3sgx

A FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN WHICH WAS SET UP TO HELP FARMERS CREATE NEW WILDFLOWER CORRIDORS HAS RAISED £75K, reports Farming UK.  The campaign, by the South Downs National Park Trust, aims to help boost bees and butterflies by creating a new network of wildflower corridors.  In just over a year of fundraising, organisers and the public have raised £75k to help farmers boost the dwindling pollinators.  Although still fundraising, the campaign – “Bee Lines” – will now move to its delivery phase, with talks underway with farmers about sites for planning.  Chalk grassland with a colourful blanket of wildflowers is “the perfect habitat” for the pollinators.  farminguk.com/news/campaign-to-help-farmers-boost-bees-raises-75-000_56046.html

AMBITIOUS TARGETS TO REDUCE PESTICIDES ARE NEEDED TO REVERSE DECLINES IN BEES, BUTTERFLIES AND OTHER INSECTS, reports Farmers Weekly, among others.  Industry leaders have given a mixed reaction to the report from The Wildlife Trusts.  The Trusts are calling for a 50% reduction in pesticide by 2030, due to growing evidence that many insects are in rapid decline.  Insects have suffered from a loss of habitat – with 97% of the UK’s wildflower rich meadows vanishing since the 1930s, and 87% of wetlands have also gone.  The Trusts also said that “The Agriculture Bill is a golden opportunity to set high standards in law and make sure insect-friendly farming practices are rewarded.  Farming organisations have given a lukewarm reception to the report.  The NFU said that pesticides and their use are already tightly regulated and farmers are already working to further reduce any risk through integrated pest-management schemes.  The UK CPA said that insect decline is a “multifactorial issue.”    fwi.co.uk/news/farm-policy/industry-reacts-to-report-calling-for-massive-cut-in-pesticide-use

THERE IS 25% LESS WHEAT BEING GROWN IN BRITAIN THIS YEAR AFTER THE WET AUTUMN FORCED FARMERS TO SWITCH CROPS, reports the Times and Farming UK.  The AHDB put the wheat area at 1.36m ha and spring barley plantings at 1.06m ha, a rise of 52%.  The board said that “a lack of winter drilling of both wheat and barley led to spring barley as the most viable option for many growers.”  Winter barley was down 34% and rapeseed was down 26%.  thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/weather-puts-dampener-on-wheat-crop-cx2btssjc

TOTAL TRACTOR REGISTRATIONS IN JUNE 2020 DECLINED BY 25% COMPARED TO LAST YEAR, reports Farming UK.  Figures show that 932 tractors were registered last month – down over 15% on June 2019, and comes amid Brexit and Covid related uncertainty.  However it is a marked improvement on May 2020 figures, in which only 586 tractors were registered – down 42% year on year.  Overall tractor sales in H1 were 25% down on the previous year.  Tractor registrations are taken as a broad indicator of the strength of the domestic market for agricultural equipment, as well as a signal of farmer confidence.  farminguk.com/news/uk-tractor-sales-see-recovery-but-still-down-year-on-year_56020.html

RABI HAS RECEIVED OVER 100 NEW CALLS FOR SUPPORT AS A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC, reports RABI.  These new enquiries, the majority of which have come from working farmers, amount to close to 40% of all calls to the helpline.  Most of the farmers who have contacted the charity have been indirectly affected by the pandemic through loss of off-farm income, low prices and the need to self-isolate.  RABI has provided grants to help cover domestic bills, given benefits advice, and supported applications for government assistance.  rabi.org.uk/continued-support-covid-19/

THE CHANCELLOR ANNOUNCED A BIG VAT CUT FOR THE HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM SECTORS THIS WEEK, reports the Countryside Alliance.  On top of this, VAT on food, non-alcoholic drinks, accommodation and attractions has been cut from 20% to 5%, which Mr Sunak says will give a £4bn boost for the industry.  The £30bn support package includes specific measures to help the countryside, including an “eat out to help out” support scheme – the first in history.  The Countryside Alliance argues that “measures announced today will help the rural economy, in which tourism plays a central and core role.”  The CLA also welcomed the news, saying that the VAT reduction will put domestic tourism businesses on a level playing field with other comparable countries.  This will enable people to afford a holiday in the “Great British countryside while also helping to revive rural economies across the country.”  cla.org.uk/chancellor-announces-vat-cut-tourism-sector


RABI, Addington Fund, FCN, Forage Aid and RSABI, supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, have launched the Farming Help initiative.  The initiative is also being launched with the NFYFC, the NFU and the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. 
FARMING HELP recognises that this will be an anxious time for many farmers and farming families and periods of poor health or self-isolation may result in temporary practical difficulties on farm.  For help drafting a contingency plan, for practical local help with livestock, shopping etc, or to discuss your concerns and anxieties,

Contact 03000 111 999 or visit www.farminghelp.co.uk

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