Long-term Environmental Improvement Plan Published

30 Aug 2023

In January 2023, Defra published the Environment Improvement Plan 2023. The plan sets out how government will work with landowners, communities and businesses to help improve the environment, restore nature and reduce environmental pollution. The plan’s key targets for the farming industry include paying farmers and land managers via environmental land management schemes to take care of the natural countryside and the environment, alongside food and other production, with the aim of incentivising 65% to 80% of farmers to adopt nature-friendly farming on at least 10% to 15% of their land by 2030.  

Farmers will be offered advice and incentives to move towards agricultural techniques that reduce nutrient pollution and use of pesticides, and rewarded for taking actions that reduce risks and impacts from floods, droughts and wildfires.  

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme will also evolve to pay for a wider range of actions and to reward farmers for co-ordinating with one another to improve biodiversity in local areas. Farmers will be supported to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles a year by 2050, bringing hedgerow lengths in England to 10% above the 1984 peak (360,000 miles). They will also be expected to contribute at least 50% of the target of bringing protected sites into a favourable condition by 2042 and help create or restore wildlife-rich habitats outside of protected areas and, alongside landowners, will be supported via funding from the Local Nature Scheme and the Landscape Recovery Scheme.

FundIng will also be available to farmers via the Sustainable Farm Incentive, which will introduce measures to reduce ammonia emissions, and via a £13 million investment in slurry storage infrastructure during 2023. The Government will also consider expanding environmental permitting conditions to dairy and intensive beef farms. 

Other commitments in the plan that are likely to affect the farming industry include bringing at least 40% of England’s agricultural soil into sustainable management to improve soil health, the restoration of 400 miles of river through the Landscape Recovery Scheme and the creation of 3,000 hectares of new riverside woodland. There will also be a commitment to provide new National Trails and ensure that everyone lives within 15 minutes’ walk of a green space. 

The forestry sector is likely to benefit from measures to grow a sustainable and long-term UK timber supply, including investment in tree planting, skills, innovation and capacity.

Here at WR Partners, we provide specialist agricultural accounting services to farmers and landowners. Contact us here for agricultural tax advice and accountancy services.

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