We in Lincolnshire are right to think of ourselves as the bread basket of England, writes Sir Edward Leigh.
Our county, taken as a whole, produces an entire eighth of the UK’s food and 70 per cent of fish is processed through Lincolnshire.
I’ve been very concerned about the court case which led to Natural England being forced to withdraw the general licences that allow farmers to shoot crows, pigeons, and other pests that plague their fields.
Like it or not, shooting is absolutely necessary to control these pests and to keep crops undamaged.
The move to withdraw the licences was not a matter of Government policy but was implemented suddenly because of a successful legal challenge.
My understanding is that Natural England is now rushing to supply new licences that are within the legal understanding that this new judicial ruling provides.
This should allow farmers to carry on with their important work safeguarding our county’s role furnishing England with its rich cornucopia of food.
The agri-food sector is an absolute bedrock of the country’s economy, generating £112 billion a year and it’s too little appreciated that farmers are central to the protection of the environment.
The Government is committed to continue the same cash total in terms of funding support for farming through the scheduled end of this parliament in 2022.
Once Britain is out of the European Union, it will erect a new scheme of subsidies to replace the Common Environmental Policy.
Britain will also be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy, which has been an environmental disaster, and destroyed many of Britain’s fishing communities.
The Fisheries Bill, currently working its way through Parliament, will end the automatic right for EU vessels to fish in British waters.
Access to fishing will be a matter for other countries to negotiate with Britain for suitable terms, giving the UK the right to set quotas.
It will also give us greater powers to protect the marine environment by ensuring that decisions over fisheries management will be made strategically and with the long-term future in mind.
However, Britain’s environment is more than agriculture and fishing.
The Environment Bill, also currently before Parliament, will introduce legislative measures to take direct action addressing air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management.
If passed, the Bill sets up a new system of green Governance, establishing an Office for Environmental Protection.
The draft clauses also place a 25-year environment plan on a statutory footing, and introduce a set of environmental principles that will be used to guide future Government policy making.
Leaving the European Union means that Britain can develop global gold standard environmental policies and taking a more targeted approach to ensure that our fields, rivers, coasts, and communities have a sustainable future.