Thursday, 12 June 2008

A Northmoor Farmer ...

One beef farmer in Northmoor tells me that part of his farm is in the Upper Thames ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area).

The Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ESS) was launched in March 2005 to build upon the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Scheme, the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme and the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).
The main objectives of the scheme are to:
  • Conserve wildlife and biodiversity.
  • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
  • Protect the historic environment and natural resources
  • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
  • Conserve genetic resources
  • Provide flood management
This farmer wanted to bring his farm up from Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) to Higher Level Stewardship (HLS).

HLS aims to provide significant environmental benefits in priority areas and situations. Examples of these include:

Hedgerows - e.g. maintenance to high environmental value
Grassland - maintenance & restoration of species-rich semi-natural grassland or wet grassland
Restoration and Maintenance of Lowland Heath
Wetlands - Maintenance of ponds of high wildlife value and reed beds.
Resource Protection - to prevent erosion and run-off.

In order to encourage wading birds such as lapwing and snipe he wished to restore an old pond which had been trodden in by cattle over the years (see photo below). All it needed to restore the pond back to its former state was for this small area to be dug out and the spoil graded up the sides. He was however informed by both the RSPB & Natural England that the Environment Agency would object to his plan as it could impede the flow of flood water.

In July 2007 95% of this farm was under water and his whole pedigree herd of 170 North Devon cows had to be evacuated.

The animals have not been the only casulties of the excess water. In the background of the photo below dead ash trees can be seen. The trees have gradually died, roots rotting due to the excessive amount of surface water.

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