11:37am Wednesday 3rd April 2013
By James Stephenson
OUR own MP Anne McIntosh is chairman of the Commons environment committee and she has done much to challenge the sacred and often mistaken beliefs of the “green brigade” that have become all too powerful within Defra and the Environment Agency.
Last week it was the turn of Owen Paterson to come under her scrutiny, with particular reference to the flooding issue which troubles both Ryedale’s market towns and its farmers.
She told Mr Paterson that his department, Defra, was showing a distinct “lack of urgency”’ over flooding issues and described the money that it spends on dredging as “small beer”.
The Environment Secretary admitted it was a worry and that “lowrisk rural waterways have deteriorated”.
He added that the rivers “are not getting the water away as they are designed to and there has been unnecessary flooding. This is definitely a problem that needs resolving”.
This has been a drum I have been banging for a long time so I am delighted our own MP is now fighting our corner from her position of high authority.
For more than 30 years I have lived alongside the River Derwent and in that time not a single hand has been raised in anger to try to clear any of the debris that has stopped its flow. I am not naïve enough to think the Government will immediately fund cleansing of all our water courses, but acceptance that there is a problem is the first step.
So far as the countryside is concerned, we have a wonderful role model in the Drainage Boards which actually work to the benefit of a lot more land owners than those through which the ditches pass. Would it not be possible to use the same template to establish Rivers Boards which could be partfunded by Government and part by a catchment area of property owners?
Within the town boundaries of, say, Malton and Pickering it would be the council that would take up the responsibility for maintenance.
We have to do something to ensure our major rivers and water courses start flowing again.
IF you have not notified the RPA of any transfer of entitlements then you are too late, as the deadline was yesterday (Tuesday).
On a more serious note, it is worth bearing in mind that even if you have notified the RPA of your intention to transfer entitlements, you can withdraw from doing so right up until the date of your application and this is especially useful if you have a tenant or a purchaser who fails to proceed as planned.
I noticed on our professional website this week that the RPA has been “raising awareness” about “intentional over declarations” on the 2013 claims.
This means that if the RPA found that you had an incorrect area on last year’s claim and they notified you of the fact, then they quite reasonably expect you not to make the same mistake again.
If you do so they are likely to view it as “an intentional over declaration”.
Such mistakes will be penalised more heavily than usual and to my mind it could not be more severe.
You will lose the whole of your payment for the scheme year if you intentionally over declare by 0.5 per cent of your total area or by more than one hectare.
This is serious so please beware and double check your acreages.
YOU may be aware that Friends of the Earth, who do not seem to be particularly supportive of my patch of soil, have been campaigning to have banned the main ingredient in our seed dressings, the chemical Neoniocotinoid.
They seem to have launched themselves into this crusade because of some laboratory studies which indicated high doses of the chemical affected the health of bees.
When extrapolated into field conditions there did not appear to be any effect, but this has not dinted Friends of the Earth who have been hammering on the doors of the European Commission with some success.
The most recent research confirms a ban on Neoniocotinoid seed treatments would be unlikely to improve bee health, but it certainly would remove a key crop technology which is vital both for the rural economy and the environment.
I am afraid the decision is finely balanced at the minute and we may be without treated seed this autumn.
Milestone for market’s future
I AM sure all of us with a genuine interest in seeing a new market built will understand the significance of the declaration by the Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation as reported in Pat Foxton’s front page article a week or two ago.
I talked with the Farmers Company accountant this morning and we both agreed it was the most crucial milestone reached so far in our campaign for relocation.
The Fitzwilliam Corporation Trustees are sensitive not only to their responsibilities to their own Trust, but also to the wider community of Ryedale and they have forged a way of uniting these separate objectives.
On the one hand the trust would like to achieve an acceptable planning consent on its Showfield site which, let’s face it, is going to be developed at some time in the future. On the other hand the trustees have realised the need for market relocation.
By making a firm offer of a free site out near Eden Camp, they can secure our farmers market future and it will be up to our council to make both dreams come true.
I am sure we are making great strides forward and are almost at the stage where farmer supporters will be called upon to commit to the project.
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