In the 2022 Government Food Strategy, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) committed to publishing a Land Use Framework for England in 2023, with the stated aim to help meet environmental targets and improve farming’s climate resilience while still enabling food production
The risk and opportunities of a land use framework were presented and discussed at Environment Committee in October 2022 and Policy Committee in December 2022, and most recently at Agriculture and Land Use Committee in January 2023.
Since then the House of Lords have published a report ‘Making the most out of England’s Land’, argued further for a Land Use Framework, and also for the creation of a new “arms-length public body”, the Land Use Commission, to create prepare and update it. It was a theme running through many of the presentations at the Oxford Farming Conference as a means to deal with land use tensions.
In January, the CLA South West attended a roundtable committee to discuss this matter as Devon is one of two pilot areas being run by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC).
A “land use framework” is ostensibly a tool to aid in decisions about land use by providing information about the uses to which a given piece of land is considered to be suited. Both the framework itself and therefore CLA policy based upon it are under development.
Attendance of the meeting was diverse, leading to an equally diverse range of viewpoints, but there was broad consensus that the framework should be used to provide information to aid decision making, rather than prescriptively dictate the use of particular areas of land.
During the meeting we expressed concern that even if the framework was not initially designed to be prescriptive, it may eventually become so, whilst also acknowledging that implemented carefully, wide information in a single location and easily digestible form could aid with investment, planning and grant applications.
We will continue to engage with the pilot, which is being monitored by DEFRA, ahead of a consultation later in the spring.