Following lobbying from the CLA and a number of Devon MPs, Defra has announced an independent inquiry into plans to reduce grazing levels of Dartmoor.
The CLA has consistently raised concerns from its members who graze livestock on common land within the National Park, much of which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Natural England, the government body responsible for ensuring that SSSI's in England are in a favourable condition, has proposed a new reduced grazing regime for sheep, cattle and ponies aimed at improving what it considers to be the poor the condition of sites in Dartmoor.
Many farmers however have expressed concern that complying with the new rules could cause profound damage to the environment as well as their business.
Now, the CLA is calling for an expanded review into Natural England’s performance.
CLA President Mark Tufnell said:
Everyone who cares about nature should worry about the current state of play. Natural England’s habit of not checking sites properly, using out of date surveys and its refusal to take into account the needs of the entire landscape has resulted in a near total collapse of confidence among farmers and landowners. This puts environmental outcomes, as well as farming businesses, at risk
We call on Defra to launch a full scale review of Natural England’s remit and track record, casting some light on an organisation that does not receive sufficient scrutiny