FARMING MATTERS: NFU calls for Chilterns Draft Plan To Recognise Farming’s Contribution

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU Adviser Georgia Craig
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU Adviser Georgia Craig

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called for greater recognition of the positive contribution of agriculture to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The NFU made the plea in its response to the consultation on the proposed Chilterns AONB management plan for 2019-2024.

The leading trade association for farmers and growers is keen to emphasise how thriving agricultural businesses have a beneficial role to play within protected landscapes.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU Adviser Georgia Craig, who is based at Milton Common, near Thame, said: “Centuries of farming have produced the Chilterns AONB landscape, yet the draft Chilterns AONB management plan must do more to recognise the positive contribution of farmers as food producers and custodians.

“The NFU has called for clearer recognition that farmers are key to the survival of this protected landscape along with the delivery of eco-system services and biodiversity objectives.

“Profitable farms can really help to protect soils and water, while delivering wildlife conservation targets and conserving historic environment features.”

She explained: “Farmers should be seen as part of the solution and we’ve recommended that the board of the Chilterns AONB should recognise this more clearly within its plan.”

The Chilterns Conservation Board has a duty to produce a statutory management plan for the Chilterns AONB every five years.

The plan is geared to conserving and enhancing the special qualities of the landscape, while improving it for those who inhabit or visit the area.

The consultation period for the first draft of the management plan has now closed but a second draft will be published for formal consultation next month (October).

Ms Craig added that the NFU has been publicly highlighting farmers’ care of our iconic British countryside.

Farmers have embraced integrated approaches to controlling pests and diseases, planting hedgerows and putting in thousands of acres of conservation areas on farms across the region for the benefit of all.