Thank you for contacting me about the possibility of using the UK’s future agricultural policy to support the development and maintenance of paths, and the Ramblers campaign, Your Path Awaits. Of course, this is a hugely important issue for many people in the Calder Valley and I believe we have been able to find a way to balance the legitimate interests of those who work in the countryside, the need to protect and enhance our rural environment and creating as many life-enhancing opportunities as possible for access to the countryside for all who want it.
Leaving the EU creates a once in a generation opportunity to design a domestic agricultural policy that will stand the test of time; bringing in innovative new ideas to support investment in sustainable British agriculture and do much better for farming, the environment and animal welfare.
The Government proposes to move to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods. The principal public good it anticipates the system promoting is environmental enhancement, but the Agriculture Bill also provides for financial assistance to be granted to promote “supporting public access to and enjoyment of the countryside, farmland or woodland and better understanding of the environment.”
Ministers have consulted widely with farmers and others and I hope that you and Ramblers were able to participate in this exercise and make your views heard.
Outside the Common Agricultural Policy we will have an opportunity to use public money to reward environmentally responsible land use. I am convinced that we will make the very most of this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a nation that both works the land and treasures it for future generations to enjoy lie ahead of us.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP