UnNeutral Opinion | A review of ELMS could spell disaster for the British environment

A review of ELMS could spell disaster for the British environment

From an environmentalism view point, farmers have had a tough ride in recent years. 

Beef, dairy, and raising other livestock have all been touted as emission-heavy practices — the government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) reported back in 2018 that the number of sheep and cattle in the UK should be reduced by as much as 50% to help combat climate change.

However, many farmers are shifting their practices in recognition of the impact they have on their local ecosystems. 

A post-Brexit scheme called the Environment Land Management Scheme (ELMS) was recently introduced to replace the criticised EU system, where farmers were paid based simply on how much land they had. Instead, ELMS would pay farmers for providing environmental benefits to the public, such as restoring woodland, preventing pollution from entering rivers, and working towards net zero targets.

Unfortunately, this has now been put on hold as the government has decided that all post-Brexit laws — of which around 570 cover aspects of the environment, from sewage pollution and pesticide use to protection for wildflower meadows and wetlands — must be reviewed or abandoned by the end of 2023.

Wildlife groups fear that protected landscapes and fragile ecosystems could be at risk, with The National Trust saying that the plans could create “grey zones” which are “devoid of nature or historic character in which people have no say in the development that impacts them”.