Funding to protect England's uplands urged

A A A

Farmers and landowners in England's uplands should be paid for protecting the landscape and providing clean water, storing carbon and preventing floods, a report for the Government said today.

The report by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) also said the Government should support to help green businesses develop to help the often-deprived areas spearhead the low-carbon economy.

Whitehall should also demand local authorities carry out audits of the opportunities for renewable energy schemes such as hydropower to stimulate new enterprises, the report said.

According to the study, England's uplands, home to two million people and covering 17% of the country, could lead the way in providing green and low carbon solutions to environmental issues.

In the future, with rising food prices, the threat of climate change and a growing world population, there will be growing pressure on land to produce food and fuel, provide clean water, prevent flooding and lock up carbon in woodlands and soils.

The uplands provide important natural assets, locking up 200 million tonnes of carbon and providing the source for 70% of drinking water, while their National Parks have 40 million visitors a year, generating £1.78 billion.

But the areas face issues including low housing availability, a lack of access to services ranging from health care to mobile phone networks and broadband and limited employment opportunities.

The CRC report said current policies to support the uplands were too top-down, fragmented, uninformed and "one-size-fits-all", and a new national strategy was needed to make communities sustainable.

Recommendations in the report include targeting funding under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is up for reform, to reward farmers for protecting natural assets.

And markets need to be developed to pay land managers for storing carbon and protecting water supplies.

Specialist advice should be provided to develop new green businesses, while local authorities should carry out audits of opportunities for renewable energy.

Programmes and incentives to stimulate green projects should make sure that benefits go to local communities first, the report said.

And investment in universal mobile phone coverage and broadband are needed to help businesses operate more effectively, provide access to services and enable social contact among young people and families, the report urged.

The report said: "Rather than defining these areas purely by their agricultural disadvantage, the nation should be considering them as areas that offer great public benefit and environmental value.

"Not only are they iconic landscapes, providing space, tranquillity, beauty and preserving cultural heritage, but they are also working areas that deliver crucial goods and services to sustain and support human livelihoods."

And it said: "The uplands could provide green and low carbon solutions to environmental issues, and lead the way on developing the green economy, demonstrating and promoting the benefits of working with and making the most of the natural and cultural land assets."

Ian Woodhurst, Senior Rural Policy Officer for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "This report rightly recognises the important role our uplands have in tackling future challenges whether it's providing food, water management or carbon capture."

"We need to banish the negative mind set many people have when thinking about upland communities. They are not just disadvantaged, declining and remote.

"They have a vital role in helping to tackle the nation's future environmental challenges.

"But, for them to be capable of delivering this role we need close partnership working between upland communities, Government departments and agencies, local authorities, businesses and environmental organisations.

"This will give them a truly environmentally sustainable future."

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) vice-president Henry Robinson said that in addition to farming, the uplands were well suited to provide other benefits such as renewable energy.

He said the report should have gone further in recognising the need to remove some of the restrictions, particularly within the planning system, that prevented roll-out of green energy.

And he said: "The rural economy and creating jobs should be permitted to lead the requirement for new housing.

"The small amount of land available for development in uplands areas must have a mixed use for employment, housing and services."

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas