Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Golden Plover Award - update

After last year’s huge success, The Golden Plover Award for Moorland Management is now seeking applicants for the Award in 2015. 

The annual Award is jointly presented by the Heather Trust and GWCT Scotland in order to promote and celebrate the very best in sustainable, integrated moorland management for a number of outcomes, including sport, conservation, recreation and agriculture. This year’s Award will focus particularly on peatland conservation, helping to highlight this crucial and developing area of upland management.  

In 2014, Savills sponsored the award and laid on an impressive award ceremony at the Scottish Game Fair, where the presentation was made by the former Heather Trust chairman, Malcolm Hay.  I am delighted that Savills are also sponsoring the 2015 award and the award ceremony, which will take place at the Scottish Game Fair on Friday, 3 July. 

Anyone can enter the Award, from farms and estates to individuals and syndicates, and we hope that the application process will attract a wide range of people from across Scotland. Much more information on the Award and its background can be found in the dedicated website for the Award, where application forms are also available to download and complete. 

The closing date for applications is 27 February, after which the judges will consider the applications to narrow down the field to three candidates, which will be visited during the Spring.

Northern Ireland: Heather Burning & Bracken Control

The DAB Farmers Group and the Ulster Farmers Union organised a meeting to discuss heather burning and bracken control, both key topics for hill farmers, with speakers from NI Fire Service and the NI Environment Agency.  The NIEA commented on the bracken control trails, a comparison of the effectiveness of different control techniques, that I visited last November.

The good turnout for a meeting to discuss these two issues, which are at the core of the Trust's work, is encouraging.  I hope to be invited back to NI, this year, to provide some input that will draw on our experience of working elsewhere.

See the full report in Farming Life.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Wales: Fairness for the Uplands - now an official group

Fairness for the Uplands (F4U) was established last year as a campaigning group to oppose low moorland payments proposed by Welsh ministers as part of the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
In December, last year, the self-funded group won a legal victory over the Welsh Government which forced ministers back to the BPS drawing board.  See the full article in The Daily Post, which has links to related stories.

F4U aims to support upland farmers in Wales who feel “under-represented by existing farming groups" and it has now been formed as an official group and wants to carry on representing hill farmers on a variety of upland and rural issues.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Uplands Farming Conference - Skipton - 5 February 2015

Photo: The Journal
The NFU and EBLEX are joining forces to stage the first Northern Uplands Conference. 

The half-day event, sponsored by HSBC, is being organised against the backdrop of shrinking budgets for both pillars of the Common Agricultural Policy, affecting direct payments and agri-environment programmes.

For more details, see the full report in The Journal.