Thursday, October 28, 2010

CLA Calls for Greater Clarity on Local Enterprise Partnerships

The Country Land and Business Association in the South West is calling for more openness and greater clarity in the way bids to form Local Enterprise Partnerships are determined.

The move follows the coalition Government’s announcement that only two bids from the whole of the South West region have been successful and CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, says it is important that people know why.

LEPs, he said, were central part of the Coalition Government’s localism agenda and local authorities had been working with business groups to set up new partnerships which would drive economic and planning policies forward.
“The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has said that the Government’s vision for local enterprise partnerships will help transforms the economic geography of the country – the problem, it seems, is that too few people know exactly what that vision is.”
The two proposals given the thumbs up were in Cornwall and the West Country area – which includes North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath and Bristol – other areas failed to get through the first stage.

The CLA has welcomed the recognition given to the importance of the rural economy in the Government’s Local Growth White Paper but says that makes it essential that the needs of rural communities and the economic activity which takes place in rural areas are properly understood by - and represented on - Local Enterprise Partnerships.

“But we need greater clarity from Government in terms of their expectations for the LEPs which failed to gain approval – what do they have to change to become acceptable? The CLA in the South West has been fighting for proper representation on the boards of the LEPs and we need to know what we have to do to win that recognition,” he said.

The CLA, he said was unique in that its members owned and managed the raw materials of economic activity – land and buildings. Furthermore, their enterprise and entrepreneurial skills were at the very core of the economic well-being of rural areas. Shifting government to the localism agenda offered an opportunity to plan a more secure future for the region’s rural communities at a local level– but he warned that this would require a successful and sustainable rural economy allied with a flexible, integrated and sustainable planning system with policies which all pulled in the same direction.

“CLA members manage land for food production and forestry, generate jobs, create business opportunities, provide investment and housing for local people and are responsible for the environment and the landscape which is such an integral part of our tourist industry. In short, CLA members play a critical role in ensuring economic diversity and vitality across the whole of our region – and they should be properly represented in the new partnerships.

“All of this demands the in-depth understanding of the balance between economic drivers and environmental sustainability which only the CLA can bring to the table. I am concerned that this opportunity is not allowed to slip by and that the CLA is offered an opportunity to contribute to the partnership which will drive the future of economic enterprise forward,” he said.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fire Risk from Chinese Lanterns

With Halloween and Bonfire Night approaching, the CLA in the South West is asking people to think again before they include sky lanterns as part of their celebrations.

The Association believes that the risk of fire to land and property, and threat to people, livestock and pets simply cannot justify the continued use of what many people are now coming to appreciate is a real threat.

CLA South west Director, John Mortimer, said: “Manufacturers and importers defend their products as an “environmentally friendly” way for people to enjoy themselves, but it is patently obvious that they are actually a potentially lethal fire risk.”

As well as the obvious fire risk, the wire frames used in many of the lanterns have caused injury and proved fatal to livestock. Other countries – apparently including parts of China – have seen fit to ban their use as the list of problems grows ever longer.

“Although there are safety instructions on many packs, the responsibility remains firmly with the person who releases the naked flame - and they have no control over where it lands. I would urge anyone considering using sky lanterns to think again and ask themselves if they would set one off towards their own home.”

Even in open countryside, said Mr Mortimer, there were barns, houses, farmyards, and woodland where people and animals could be put at risk. There was also, he said, a considerable risk to stores of dry crops such as hay and straw.

“It cannot be right that one group of people’s so-called celebrations can cause, at best, anxiety and, at worst, real damage, to others.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Devon Farmers Learn About a Troublesome Teenager

Farm and land managers in Devon were given some instruction on handling a troublesome teenager yesterday evening – a teenager who will have a huge impact on all of their lives.

The teenager in question is the Common Agricultural Policy and the behavioural expert handing out the advice was Prof. Allan Buckwell. Director of Policy at the CLA, the Country Land and Business Association.

“Parents always argue about how to handle difficult quarrelsome teenagers and this one is no different - there are some heated discussions brewing up over the reforms which will take the CAP into its teen years from 2013 to 2020. ”

Speaking to the Devon Farm Management Association, Prof Buckwell, compared the CAP to the stages of a child’s development with the years between 1968 and 1992 representing the infancy and pre-school CAP when there were strong markets and prices and support was based on geographical borders. The CAP went to primary school between 1992 and 2000 when it developed into compensatory, direct payments, and during its early secondary school years it had to discover how to juggle with two hands – representing the two pillar, decoupled CAP. It also had to learn about the importance of market failures.

“Next we enter the teens – and that shouldn’t hold any surprises, we know that maturity is still some way off and that the clash of hormones is inevitable and, as with all teenagers, choices over its future direction will have to be made” he said.

Food security was, he said, a real challenge and one of the choices to be made was whether we supported food production or the environment or whether support should be targeted at both.

“The inescapable fact is that agricultural productivity has to rise and that will require knowledge intensive, precision land management. A strong common policy is essential and it must have funding resources to match the expectation placed upon it,” he said.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Red Tape Review Deadline Looming

The CLA is reminding farmers across the South West that the deadline for submissions to Defra’s Review of Farm Regulation - which is looking at ways of reducing red tape in the agricultural industry - is this coming Sunday, October 31.

The Task Force on Farming Regulation is reviewing regulation affecting farmers, growers and food processors, and is asking for views on red tape, and suggestions for better ways to do things.

CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, said: “Red tape is a constant source of complaint from our members, and while the CLA has submitted a particularly robust response to this consultation, it is important that everyone takes this opportunity to contribute. Government repeated its intention to look at this seriously in the Comprehensive Spending Review last week.”

The review team is looking for regulations that go beyond what is required or which are too complex whether form filling, record keeping or inspections. They want to find out how businesses are affected and how the regulations should be changed.

“Your list can be long or short, but your comments should specify what the regulation is, who applies it, and what your suggested solution would be. If there are regulations you think are unnecessary and which could be removed without lowering standards for business, the public or the environment this is the chance to change things,” said Mr Mortimer.

Defra says that all comments and suggestions received by 31 October 2010 will be considered and fed into the review. The results will be made available early in 2011.

As well as responding to the consultation online at people can contribute by writing to:

Task Force on Farming Regulation, Area 8D Millbank' Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

Notes for editors:

The Review of Farm Regulation is looking for comments in the following areas:
* Farm animals
* Growing and crops
* Food processing
* Business & management
* Environment & land management

For further information see

CLA Takes a Look on the Bright Side

South West landowners are being offered the chance to look on the bright side of life – at a seminar which will explore the opportunities and pitfalls of generating power from the sun.

CLA South West Rural Surveyor, Graham Clark, says the technology for generating electricity from ‘photovoltaic’ solar panels has been around for some years – but, until now, with relatively modest uptake in the UK.

“What’s changed is the introduction of Feed-in-Tariffs earlier this year. These provide guaranteed payments for every unit of renewable power produced over a 25 year period and have significantly improved the economics of solar PV,” said Mr Clark.

The event, which is being organised by the CLA, is being held at Lanhydrock Golf Club, Bodmin, on November 15 and brings together professional advisers who will discuss the solar PV technology and the options for landowners plus planning, financial and legal issues. In addition, there will be opportunities for delegates to hear from and speak directly to leading companies who provide solar panels and others who are looking for land in the South West on which to develop ‘solar parks’

More sunlight, says Mr Clark, means more power generation – therefore solar PV is a more viable option in the sunnier south west. PV also attracts higher Feed in Tariffs than the other renewable technologies - however, he warned that ‘joining rates’ start to fall in 2012 so landowners should consider their options soon.

The seminar will help people assess the most suitable option for their land or buildings, whether they should develop the project themselves and benefit directly from the power generated and from the tariff or whether they should lease land out to a solar developer.

“We will be discussing all the issues including getting planning permission and a grid connection - both significant hurdles to be cleared, but, depending on the circumstances, a solar PV project can not only reduce the exposure of a business to likely future rises in electricity prices but also become a profitable enterprise in its own right.”

Shining a Light on Photovoltaics takes place on Monday 15 November from 9.00 am – 1.45 pm at Lanhydrock Golf Club, Bodmin, Cornwall and places cost £15 for CLA members and £25 non-CLA members. Details are available from the CLA on 01249 700200.

Housing developers to pay ‘conservation tax’ | The Times

Housing developers to pay ‘conservation tax’ | The Times:
Developers could be made to pay for new conservation areas under government plans to attach a financial value to the wildlife found on every piece of land converted for housing, industry or roads.
The system of “conservation credits” would generate tens of millions of pounds each year to finance the creation of new wetlands, woodlands and habitats for endangered species.
In an interview with The Times, Richard Benyon, the Environment Minister, said that the credit system would result in overall gains for wildlife, with landowners and developers required to create more “natural capital” than they destroyed.
A landowner seeking planning permission for a housing estate would have to obtain an independent assessment of the damage to nature and then purchase the appropriate number of credits before the development began.
The money would be given to wildlife trusts and conservation groups that have identified areas suitable for restoration. The system, which will be presented in a Natural Environment White Paper in the spring, will allow one type of habitat to be replaced with another as long as it is worth the same number of credits.
The Country Land and Business Association, whose members control or manage more than half the rural land in England and Wales, said that developers already compensated communities through planning obligatons to provide amenities."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weather Widget now on the Blog

We hope the Met Office weather forecast box in the sidebar is useful, if not always a bearer of welcome news.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CSR settlements show some good sense but ‘devil in detail’, says CLA

The Comprehensive Spending Review settlements by Defra, DECC and DCLG display "some good sense", but the full impact of the cuts is still unclear, the CLA said today (20 October).

The CLA said it was "pleased" Defra said it is reprioritising its spending to focus on food and environment, something the Association had been calling for since 2007.

On environmental stewardship, CLA President William Worsley said he was "delighted that the contribution to biodiversity of land owners and managers has been recognised by Defra maintaining its commitment to environmental stewardship. However, we are worried by the implication that the eligibility criteria may be restricted."

On the surprise 80 percent increase in Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), the CLA said this means that HLS is now by far the main source of funding for privately owned heritage, another reason why it is good news.

On flood defence, the CLA President said it was "welcome" that extra funding has been found for flood and coastal defences, but said it would not be enough.

Mr Worsley said: "The Government must still work to make it easier for land owners and managers to maintain their own flood defences without having to work through the excessive regulation which currently places a heavy burden on the process."

On rural broadband, Mr Worsley said the CLA had argued for many years that a significant amount of public sector money should be provided to roll out superfast broadband to rural areas.

Mr Worsley said the CLA had argued for many years that a significant amount of public sector money should be provided to roll out superfast broadband to rural areas.

He said: "Broadband is the key to unlocking the potential of the rural economy. With savings of some £1 billion a year expected through greater online Government services, it is critical that everyone has access to an adequate broadband service. We look forward to hearing more about the detailed allocation of funds and how these will be implemented."

On animal disease, he said: "It is good news that Defra still intends to involve the industry in handling outbreaks of animal disease. In the light of yesterday's National Audit Office (NAO) report on the state of accounts, nobody should underestimate the size of the task of moving to full cost and responsibility sharing."

On the Renewable Heat Incentive, the CLA said it was "good news" that £860 million of funding for the RHI will be introduced from 2011-12.

Mr Worsley said: "The proposals for a Renewable Heat Incentive are really good news for commercial and domestic producers and consumers. Heat accounts for half of UK carbon emissions, and saving carbon through renewable heat is far cheaper than through the generation of renewable electricity."

The South West Uplands Seminar: Future of our Farmed Uplands?

The closing date for registration is Friday October 22 and the costs is £5 for those with a holding number or £20 for those without. Further details and registration information is available from

Marilyn Stephen, Centre for Rural Policy Research

Tel. 01392 722438. Email:

The Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR) together with the South West Uplands Federation (SWUF), and with the active support of Devon County Council, the NFU, RSPB, Natural England, other agencies and NGOs is extending an invitation for people to participate in a one day seminar on the distinctiveness and future of the South West's farmed uplands.

The South West Uplands Federation and the Centre for Rural Policy Research (University of Exeter) are convening this one day seminar to take forward the CRC's upland inquiry and present new research findings on farming in the southern uplands. It will be an opportunity to celebrate the distinctiveness of the region's uplands and to explore the opportunities to reward farmers for delivering the 'seven wonders of the
south west uplands'.

SWUF and the CRPR wish the seminar to be an upbeat event celebrating the region's distinctive uplands and working towards a positive future, whilst at the same time recognising there are issues that need to be addressed by government and by organisations and businesses in the uplands.

We would like to invite you to attend the seminar and join in the discussions. We are conscious that the date is quite soon after the Spending Review bt we have invited Jim Paice to come to update us on the effect of that on hill farming and the public assets which it sustains.

Other speakers will cover the distinctiveness of the SW uplands, the CRC's upland inquiry and new research findings on farming in the southern uplands. There will also be statements from farmers from each of the three uplands of the SW. There will be ample opportunity for discussion and celebration of the distinctiveness of upland farming in the south west.

The event will be held on October 29th at Westpoint, the County Agricultural Association's showground, just outside of Exeter.

CLA broadband victory in Comprehensive Spending Review

The CLA today (20 October) celebrated victory for its rural broadband campaign as the Government announced £530 million of funding to roll-out a superfast broadband network to rural areas.

The Association, the first to recognise the importance of broadband to sustain the future of rural businesses and communities, had argued for many years that a significant amount of public sector money should be provided to roll-out superfast broadband in the countryside.

CLA President William Worsley said: "Broadband is the key to unlocking the potential of the rural economy.

"With savings of some £1 billion a year expected through greater online Government services, it is critical that everyone has access to an adequate broadband service. We look forward to hearing more about the detailed allocation of funds and how these will be implemented."

Mr Worsley added: "The CLA suggests a series of community broadband grants made available at parish level. With the right funding in place, a proper infrastructure can be provided by the communities themselves by putting the Government's localism agenda into practice."

CLA relieved at Government offer of renewable heat support

The CLA today (20 October) expressed relief over the Government's offer of support for renewable heat by honouring the commitment for the Renewable Heat Incentive.

The Association said the Government's plan to introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), as announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review, is welcomed by businesses and individuals who are able to generate heat from clean green sources, such as solar thermal panels and ground source heat pumps.

CLA President William Worsley said: "The proposals for a Renewable Heat Incentive as set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review are really good news for commercial and domestic producers and consumers. Heat accounts for half of UK carbon emissions, and saving carbon through renewable heat is far cheaper than through the generation of renewable electricity."

Mr Worsley added the incentive would also provide other environmental benefits. He said: "The RHI will transform the woodfuel market, resulting in better management for Britain's woodlands and helping to create and manage wildlife effectively."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cornwall Event to Learn About PV Opportunities


9.00 am – 1.45 pm Monday 15th November 2010

Lanhydrock Golf Club, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5AQ
Sponsored by Rural Development Associates, Stratton & Holborow, Foot Anstey Solicitors

The introduction of Feed-in-Tariffs (FITs) in April 2010 has created significant opportunities for landowners to benefit from the production of renewable electricity, with the sunnier South West being particularly favourable for generating solar power. Solar Photovoltaics (PV) attracts the highest FIT payments and there are now unprecedented opportunities to generate power and income by installing solar panels or by leasing out land or roof space for others to do so. However, owners should consider their options soon, as FIT payments start to decline from 2012.

Experienced professional advisers will provide an overview of the solar PV technology and the options for landowners. The event will also cover the important areas of planning, financial viability and legal issues. In addition, there will be opportunities to hear from and speak directly to leading companies who provide solar panels and others who are looking for land in the South West on which to develop 'solar parks'.


The event is primarily aimed at farmers and owners of land and buildings, however it is open to anyone wishing to learn more about how those with suitable land or buildings can benefit from generating electricity by Solar PV.

09.00 Registration & refreshments

09.30 John Willis (CLA Cornwall Chairman & Landowner) - Chairman's introduction

09.35 Technical Introduction - Ray Noble (The Renewable Energy Assocation Solar PV specialist) Basic principles: insolation/shade; roof or ground mounted; stand alone vs grid connected systems; description of equipment – panels; inverters; fixings etc; size/kw output of panels and scale issues.

09.55 Q&A

10.05 James Humphreys (Surveyor, Stratton & Holborow)) – Options for the Landowner - Basics of Feed in Tariffs; suitable land/buildings; 'DIY' (landowner owned) or lease out roof/land; rents achievable.

10.25 Tim German (Head of Low Carbon Green Cornwall Programme Environment Planning & Economy Cornwall Council) – Renewables in Cornwall; PV in context.

10. 45 Adrian Lea (Manager, Natural Resources Planning, Cornwall Council) – Planning for Renewable Energy in Cornwall; Planning Policy and advice to potential applicants.

11.05 Q & A

11.15 Refreshment break

11.45 James Miles-Hobbs (Consultant, Rural Development Associates) – Project Viability – Costings; income; payback period; viability; grid connection issues.

12.05 Simon Gregory (Foot Anstey Solicitors)
Legal Issues - Lease agreements; Heads of Terms; protecting your interests.

12.25 Q&A

12.35 Andrew Williams (Landowner, Lanhydrock Estate) – The Landowner & developer's perspective – Practical comments from a landowner involved in a solar development.

12.55 Comments from supplier/developer companies – Sunstroom, INRG Solar, Green Company, Capture Energy, Horizon Renewables and Plug Into the Sun, Nova Energy UK Ltd

13.25 Q&A to suppliers/developers

13.40 Chairman's summary

13.45 Lunch – followed by opportunities for delegates to view supplier/developer displays & talk to them on one to one basis


The event costs just £15 for members and £25 for non-members and includes refreshments and sandwich lunch.

Click here to book

Monday, October 18, 2010

CLA 'relieved' at axing of Severn Barrage plan

CLA 'relieved' at axing of Severn Barrage plan:

"The CLA today (18 October) welcomed the announcement that the large-scale tidal barrier proposed for the River Severn has been cut by the Government."

CLA Deputy President Harry Cotterell said: "It is a relief. There were huge unresolved problems with the barrage plan, not least the need it would have created to flood many thousands of hectares of good coastal land to provide the compensatory habitat required under European Union law. We were concerned this might have required valleys in other parts of the country to be submerged."

"We were also worried about the proposed scheme's impact on migratory salmon."

Mr Cotterell added: "The CLA advised against going ahead with the Severn Barrage and other schemes involving large-scale barrage. We said that they should look more closely at less harmful options such as underwater turbines or smaller tidal lagoons."

South West CLA Business Member Directory

Member businesses located in the 'South West' region. - Country Land & Business Association

A searchable directory of our business members.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rural Businesses Should Not Bear the Burden of Wildlife Funding

News Release 
October 13 2010

Rural Businesses Should Not Bear the Burden of Wildlife Funding

Landowners in the South West have sounded a note of caution about RSPB proposals for new taxes to protect the environment.

The Association said that the plans, outlined in a report entitled 'Financing Nature in an Age of Austerity', could put even greater pressure on rural businesses at an already tough time.

CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, said: “The report rightly recognises that there is not enough funding for the level of conservation work desired by the environmental lobby. However taxing farmers and land managers or putting a levy on new homes in the countryside –as the report suggests - is not the answer.

Conservation and wildlife management, he said, had an economic cost – and he warned that if rural businesses were prevented from evolving to meet the changing demands of the marketplace, they could not continue to bear the costs and, consequently, delivery would decline. Massive cuts to public spending also meant it was essential for the Government to ensure that farmers and land managers were on board at a local level. 

“Farmers and land managers already deliver a huge amount of conservation work and without their input England's wildlife network will suffer because there will be nobody to look after or pay for it.  But they can only continue to provide this service if their businesses remain economically viable.”

Mr. Mortimer said that the economy of the countryside depended on a range of rural businesses and that they could ill afford additional financial burdens. The planning system, he said, was already too expensive without Government adding to its costs.”

“It’s all very well saying that we have to nurture the environment, and no one would argue with that, but at the moment we need to nurture those businesses who can actually deliver the environment, habitat and landscape without affecting their priority job which is feeding us all,” he said.

Coastal Path Plan Condemned As a Waste of Money

News Release  
October 15 2010

Coastal Path Plan Condemned As a Waste of Money

Plans to start the roll out the All-England coastal path on the South West coast are an unnecessary waste of public money according to the CLA, the Country Land and Business Association.

Natural England is planning to boost access along the coastal path beside Weymouth Bay in time for the 2012 Olympics and to follow that with five new 20-mile stretches around the coast – including one between Minehead and Stert Point in Somerset.

The plan, being brought forward under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, has been condemned by the CLA as a complete waste of money because so much of the coast is already accessible.

CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, said: “It is extraordinary that the Natural England should be showcasing the introduction of new coastal access in Weymouth Bay when the area is already extremely well served by the acclaimed South West Coast Path and by an extensive complex of permissive and voluntary access arrangements - so there is no real need to provide additional access. Public money will be used to pay for what largely already exists.”

The CLA says that Natural England’s own figures state that more than four-fifths of the coast is already accessible to the public. Of the remainder, only half could be accessed because the rest is occupied by ports, harbours, military bases or sites of crucial conservation interest.

“At a time when the Government is trying to cut public expenditure in other, far more critical, areas it is surely irrational to spend millions of pounds replicating access that already exists. 

"If the Government wants to spend money on the coast, then it would be better spent on improving the facilities already on the established coastal paths such as maintenance, signs, toilets and car parks,” said Mr Mortimer.