Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence



Examination of Witnesses (Questions 760-779)

TONY BURTON, ROB MACKLIN, ELLIE ROBINSON AND VICKI HIRD

WEDNESDAY 17 APRIL 2002

  760. While we are on that subject, you looked at three models, did you not? "Modified status quo", "Cork" and "radical liberalisation". What do these models tell us?
  (Vicki Hird) What we wanted to do was just to tease out what the various positions of the various proponents of different changes to the Common Agricultural Policy were saying and what the impact of those proposals would be. We are limited as an organisation, in terms of funding, obviously, to model changes in detail. That is one of our problems. That is why we want to see more research. Who benefits from what kind of system? Modelling from DEFRA would be extremely helpful and some idea of what farmers are currently getting. I mean, it is incredible in America: you can find out exactly what subsidy each farmer is getting. There is a web site. You can look at it and you know exactly which farmer (and their ordnance survey reference) is getting 5 million each year. This kind of information would be helpful for us to know where changes are going to impact. But, looking at the models that we are proposing, the Cork model clearly is one that our members favour because it is a more measured, structured change. Managing that change, as Tony was saying, in a way that recognises what benefits we want to support, that recognises that farmers need to have that change managed slowly and carefully.

  761. The Curry Report, as we keep referring to it, put a lot of emphasis on the market-distorting signals which came from production support. Why should environmental support be any less market-distorting, albeit you might like a bit more for the research?
  (Vicki Hird) The idea that market-distortion is always a dirty word, I am not too sure about. I think there are no subsidies that will not distort the market. I think that is well recognised and we would not say otherwise. But we want the kind of support systems that will be minimally distorting of the market and giving maximum value for money for taxpayers.
  (Mr Burton) I think the issue here is that it is not either/or and we need to blend the market mechanisms with the recognition of the public benefits that we are getting from farming as well. But Rob will probably want to expand on that.
  (Mr Macklin) The distortions that exist have been very much commodity based and what we are trying to do is to redress the balance, as you have just said. I think also it is important to recognise what are the products of farming. I know it is well said in the Curry Report, but really we struggle with this on a day-to-day basis with our tenanted farms, in that we have an obligation to recognise what a given farm is able to produce—and that may be far more than just food—and then we wish to help seek those other items—which might be tourism, they may be any number of other things—and to get healthy competitiveness for those land managers themselves, actually to help them have a very vibrant tourism economy. So we have to look a little bit away from just food alone to see what the farming is actually delivering for us and that obviously then ties into rural economy, etc, etc. What we recognise is that if you just go for bargain basement economics and you just say, Let the market reign and you just talk about food, then you will get big farms which are cutting unit costs of production and that is not what we are aiming for. Having said that, we do recognise that there is a real diversity. There is not one single answer to any of this. We have opportunities where we do actually strive to amalgamate two co-joining farms together because it makes more economic sense and it is more likely to be viable in the future for the families concerned. In many other cases we can actually have small units because they have other income streams, and we think that is entirely healthy.

Diana Organ

  762. Which is your most important priority in the farming community? Is it just to keep family farms, those small and medium-sized farms, in existence, and the taxpayer would support them one way or another to be there? Or is it for those farms actually to be involved in a competitive and money-making business? I am a little confused because, from what you have said, it seems that your real aim is just to keep farmers in farms.
  (Vicki Hird) No, it is not that. What we want to see is a recognition of the diversity of farm systems, as I said, and not, you know, big farms are bad and small and medium-sized farms are good. We want to recognise that that diversity is valuable and to maintain that diversity. As you can see from our submission, there are several objectives that we have. Maintaining diversity of farm systems is one of them. Stemming the loss of farmers and workers is certainly a priority, but the other five are also priorities for us. So it is within a system that is environmentally sustainable, that has sustainable development at its heart, that we want to see Government policy go. As I have said, we do not want to see us in 10 years time with half the number of farms we have now and suddenly realise what we have lost in terms of diversity of landscape; landscape features from several communities, farm communities; culture relating to food; the opportunities for local food supply; the opportunities for regional food supply; the opportunities for public procurement on a more local level, to connect schools to farmers—all these kinds of things. In 10 years time, if we have got rid of the majority of our dairy farms, for instance, then we will have lost that opportunity both to make those connections with food for the consumers and also to have the landscape and other bio-diversity benefits that we can have from a diverse farming system.

  763. This diversity, when you say it is valuable, is it of value to the taxpayer who is having to support it or is it valuable for the people involved per se? Because from your model it seems that there might be a group of people who will have to be there because they promote your model of diversity though they may be having to live on extremely low incomes because of the system we have got. I am not sure that that is value for those farmers involved.
  (Vicki Hird) No, we would not want them to be on low incomes, what we want to see is a market and a support structure that means that they have got an income that allows them to have a decent quality of life and also maintain their farms in an environmentally friendly way. That is the key, that is the nirvana we are looking for, not just maintaining for the sake of it.

  764. And that would be of value to the taxpayer, would it?
  (Vicki Hird) Yes.
  (Mr Macklin) I think it is important to say that farmers, from their actual land management practices, are delivering benefits. A lot of work has been done to try to analyse this—and take it in the context in which it is said—but you have got certain externalities of agriculture which are downsides of perhaps more intensive systems and then you have actual benefits, as has been said and will probably be said by other witnesses during the course of these investigations. I think what we recognise is that there are bio-diversity benefits—let's talk about one, for example—which actually accrue as a result of certain farming practices, without which it is exceptionally costly or just impossible to get those benefits delivered. The point is really that if pure market liberalisation was allowed to happen, and we could go to ranching systems or what have you, we simply do not have the people there to deliver the other things. It may well be putting walls up in the Lake District, it may be any number of things which attract people to those areas and that just will not be possible. We are beginning to see it already, not in areas of outstanding natural beauty particularly but where contract farming is now really the only way to make more and more money with less and less resources. For contractors, they turn up, they will go into a field, they will be out in a matter of hours, they will have no great commitment to the actual soil, to the actual field boundaries, anything like that, it is done very, very quick and dirty. There is nothing wrong with that as far as the business acumen is concerned, but what it does not do is give you the ability to look after the infrastructure on the farms, and that is a big issue which is growing.

Gillian Shephard

  765. I am sure you know that there are 62 organisations concerned with looking after the countryside at the moment—and that is without counting the people who are actually elected to do so and are accountable to the electorate—and you are two of them. All of them talk about sustainable farming. Can we hear from both of you what the definition is—and is there any hope that the definitions might overlap?
  (Mr Macklin) Shall I start with the salvo? I think what we are trying to do is deliver a farming, a land use, which is certainly more sustainable. We can recognise getting towards sustainability. I do not think there is a nirvana (you have used the word before): that, actually, once we have solved the problem, there is a holy grail and that is it.

  766. What do you mean by sustainable?
  (Mr Macklin) Wise, smart use of the finite resources that we have available. So, for example, we are looking at trying to farm in a way that is reversible; that we do not do things which would adversely affect the future generations. We are looking at making things financially sustainable; in other words, that people can afford actually to develop it, so that either if they are paid or if they are tenanted farmers making a business living from it, that also may be sustainable. So it has to add up on environmental and business grounds—plus, of course, the small matter of food production, which is one of the many important things in the suite. So we are not looking at mining resources; we are looking at trying to get back to what farming is all about, which is actually using intelligence to make sure that you have a renewable resource. That is really what we are after. That infiltrates new buildings, how they operate, not getting ourselves stuck in a rut by thinking of only one solution. We have got to be very fluid. It was mentioned when you started, Mr Curry, about "Are we fixed?" The one thing we are not is fixed in aspic jelly. We have to be very light on our feet and think, "If we have not got the solutions now, we will work on them." Even now we are working on the effects of global warming on the uplands and things like this, so we know there are changes coming all the time and we just have to be intelligent about how we try to get towards sustainability with what we know. That is my answer.

  767. You are talking about your tenanted farmers in that respect—I mean, you do not have greater ambitions?
  (Mr Macklin) Of course we are trying to influence. If we can start to demonstrate that we are getting somewhere, then of course there is an opportunity to share that information, which we are very happy to do.

  768. Are your farmers open to your views of what is sustainable?
  (Mr Macklin) Increasingly so—and not surprisingly. In the last few years, with the economic downturn, they are more receptive to ideas, potential solutions and opportunities. But it is really a partnership with them because we cannot impose anything, we have to work with them, and increasingly, I have to say, it is very encouraging and we are working not just with individual farmers but with groups of farmers, which is very important. That is very good value for our effort and for their response.

  769. Can I come to Sustain.
  (Vicki Hird) Yes. Sustain has 105 member organisations, all with a part or whole interest in food and farming—just to mention that—and I can give you a list of those members[16]. It includes all the major unions, the farming groups and the consumer groups as well as the public health groups and environmental groups. Sustainable farming for us is about more or less what Rob said. I would not disagree with anything he said, but we very much see it as part of a sustainable food system and our whole work is looking at the whole food system. That is why I mentioned in my submission to you that we have to look at the whole food chain when looking at UK farming and, indeed, farming internationally. We would advocate ". . . policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society". That encapsulates where we are thinking in terms of sustainable food production. So it is not just about farming. But certainly there is the Brundtland[17] definition that we would go along with: maintaining the systems that our children and grandchildren would need in order to feed themselves, worldwide.

  770. The Chairman asked an interesting question about why it is that environmental persuasions and financial persuasions are necessarily preferable to food production persuasions. I think you answered that question because it was put to you. I do not think the question was put to the National Trust.
  (Mr Burton) Our answer is that, as I think I indicated earlier, it is not an either/or. We are talking about producing food, we are talking about producing other goods that society wants, and that is a range of goods. The quality of the food, a sense of certainty about where it has come from, the connection to locality, but a whole range of other public benefits in terms of wildlife, landscape, culture, history, heritage, bio-diversity and the whole set of functions that that land performs for society, most notably, I guess, in terms of flood defence and flood management. We get enormously good value for money out of a well managed farming systems in terms of the investment we then do not have to put into tackling problems which might otherwise occur elsewhere and the debate around flood defences is a very visible example of that at the moment.

  771. There is a question to be put, I think to anybody who opines about farming, and that is: Does the product matter? Do people care whether food is produced here or elsewhere or is it really a question of price? We have had supermarket representatives in. Naturally they have all said that people are deeply concerned about where food comes from, but most of us, from our own observation, do not see any evidence of this whatsoever. I know in your National Trust submission you say—and indeed I have heard your Director General say the same thing—that there is evidence in the National Trust shops and restaurants that people are interested in the provenance of food. But of course we are not talking there, are we, about 65 million people? We are talking about a rather smaller sample. Are we really talking, when we are talking about interest in the provenance of food, about the educated middle class or what?
  (Mr Macklin) We are talking of all of the above really. When we are importing cheap product from abroad of unknown quality and origin, we may well be exporting our problems elsewhere, which is its own sort of finite lifespan, as many parts of the world food production are testament to. Dustbowl farming the soil, massive soil loss elsewhere, which is out of sight, out of mind. Now I think it is our role not just to satisfy the small niche who are the middle class consumer but actually to show that we can farm in a way that is more likely to be sustainable than other models. To that end, we are working with arable farmers in Devon, with groups of our farmers, to look at different agronomy techniques, so that they are still making a profit but we are actually getting less soil erosion problems. So we are trying to solve real farming issues rather than just pander to a chocolate box idea about how it can be. Because it would be the easiest thing in the world just to solve our own 700 farms worth of farming problems, we could probably be buying our food from elsewhere, but that does not seem to be very smart. We think we have a role—and we are certainly not there yet—to try to get better at what we are doing and to try to promote that more widely.

Paddy Tipping

  772. Earlier you made a very fair point about greater modelling and the need to try to put, in a sense, theory into practice. One of the points you made in your evidence was about the greater use of modulation up to 20 per cent, but focusing that on those who need it. Modulation used to have a different name. Originally it was taking money away from the big farmers and diverting it to the smaller family farms. Yes, the term has changed, but how would you do it? How would you target the approach that you are advocating?
  (Vicki Hird) It is interesting, you mention the kind of 1992 MacSharry scenario which is what actually brought Sustain into being, one of its founding organisations, the SAFE Alliance, to push for that kind of approach as well as other things and that is what we still advocate. The difficulty for us is having enough resources to do the modelling, which is why I mention that. What we want to see is the Government actually to design different approaches and see how they might work in a modelling scenario or even piloting different approaches on the ground with, for instance, National Trust farms, or looking at how you could do this. We could go for crude measures such as the first 5,000 does not get modulated, so that would actually maybe get the most in need not having any funds being syphoned off their subsidy checks. That would be one crude way of doing it, but we would like to see some proper impact assessment of different models and different ways of doing it. There are a whole range of different ways of doing it and we certainly advocate a clever way, not a crude flat rate way, and we always have. That is one thing that does kind of sit differently from some of the conservation organisations, for instance, but I think we are all of a mind that we want modulation, just how we do it is the issue. So we are at one on doing it, but actually how it is operated is possibly where we might differ.

  773. One of the interesting things about the Curry Report is this notion of a "broad and shallow" scheme. In a sense, everybody is going to be a gainer from that but there are, in a sense, public good gains that you would rate higher than others. I would be interested in both organisations' views of how sophisticated a support system you would want to deliver those public goods.
  (Mr Burton) If I could ask Ellie to come in on that, I think the key issue is that the public good gains would be different in different places. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this which is good for the design of the policy instrument.
  (Ellie Robinson) This idea of an entry level agri-environment scheme that is available, that is there to deliver benefits for communities and the public across the whole countryside, is one we would strongly support. It is an issue that groups of farmers and organisations have been talking about for a long time now. It is good to see that the discussion has got to a level where there is a critical mass of opinion. I think in terms of how sophisticated it can be, we have an agri-environment programme that is 10 years old that has grown in sophistication in the existing schemes, albeit with a small amount of money compared to the production subsidies. They deliver quite a lot and they have been on targeted measures by and large or the environmentally sensitive area schemes. Our ambition for an entry level scheme is more simplicity in administration. One of the criticisms that is levelled at the existing agri-environmental programme is its complexity. It is very specialised in many areas, particularly in Countryside Stewardship. The entry level scheme should be there for all farmers, it should be accessible, and the core aim should be to put the environment at the heart of each farming business. It is as much an approach and a cultural change to the way you farm as it is having x numbers of skylark per hectare or something that is much more complicated. If you are looking for very specific benefits then it will undoubtedly need a more targeted, sophisticated scheme, but I think the growing consensus is that we want integration and the knitting together of what we have learned and achieved over the last 10-15 years—whether that is on woodland creation, salt marsh management, hay meadows, all of that—in a way that for the farmer, for the land manager, is accessible. It is getting there. Your entry level scheme would be the natural progression into delivering something much more sophisticated which would attract a lot higher payment.
  (Mr Macklin) If I could cut in there, I have had a fair bit of experience of filling in quite a few agri-environment schemes over the years and also am responsible for the National Trust IACS paperwork, so it is no small task, but we recognise the practicalities that need to be embedded in a basic entry level scheme and to that end we think that a combination of the IACS declaration—which is this blend we are talking about—and having some environmental check lists as part of that will start to bridge the gap, so that producers will recognise that as part of their deal, yes, they are working on commodity support as far as the cereal is concerned but, turn to the back of the thing and it says "Right, OK, I have got a current fertiliser spreading plan, I have got this . . ." so that we can start to tackle some of the things which are very difficult at the moment. Diffuse pollution issues and things like that could actually be part of the suite of things for which you get rewarded. I think that is fairly unsophisticated and could be deliverable, you know, this May 15. It is possible to do that. We are not trying to dream up something which means huge amounts of GIS, satellite technology and everything. That may well come, but at the moment we recognise that paper maps are still held in the basements of Exeter and all the rest of it and are very difficult to work from, so we want to come up with something which is easy, not difficult for farmers to go to, and which does not discourage people from entering. As we know, people will go for the incentives from the existing CAP scheme and it is very likely, if we can modify it and give a transition, that people will follow that, as long as it is kept simple and straightforward and it is quite smart.

  774. I do not share your confidence that it is simple and straightforward. What Curry is advocating is payments for everybody for, in a sense, lifting their act. Tony Burton quite rightly said earlier on there are different needs everywhere. When I was at one of your farmers the other day, Booth Farm in the Hope Valley, the kind of payments one would make there are very different from the payments you would make in north Monmouthshire over the reclamation of heath land or for the work the Trust is doing in the Fens. This seems a fairly complicated situation to me. I am not as confident as you are about, first of all, the mechanics of it, but, secondly, I think even beyond that there is a fundamental issue of what we want from the countryside. Different people want different things. RSPB, for example, may want different things from, say, the Ramblers' Association.
  (Mr Burton) Sure.

  775. It is how we put all that together that I think is pretty difficult.
  (Mr Burton) I agree. I am not trying to oversimplify it, but the entry level scheme is the simple one, and I think then the layers—and you have seen all the diagrams of pyramids which have been used for legal organisations—that is where we can ratchet up the sophistication to meet the need. So, if it is birds and Fenlands, that is fine, but if it is access then we can turn it in that direction. That is obviously more sophisticated but I think, this basic scheme, we want to make it available so that you do not get the argument, "Well, our subsidy has just been taken away, we will never see it again." This is a way of getting that basic element across. Just on the wider point—and I know that Vicki will want to get in on "broad and shallow"—when you take it beyond "broad and shallow" on the entry level scheme, you need a wider public debate and you need mechanisms and the processes in place so that we can make those choices and we can make those choices real to the locality where the money is going to go. We are at the sort of foothills of change there. This is an area of policy which has been less subject to that kind of debate than is necessary. We are beginning to see that happening at a regional level, but it is very, very slow. We would like to see more discretion in the mid-term review to allow Member States to address those kinds of issues. That is where the contract between the farmer and the public needs to be developed and that is where you can make choices through a process of debate dialogue and ultimately decision making which would reflect the potentially different priorities which different people would place on the future of that land and the management choices that we have in front of us.

  776. A cynic in the middle of the City of Nottingham would say, "Hang on a minute, farmers already get 3 billion"—and in your evidence, Vicki, you say we have to persuade the Treasury to put even more money in because right behind Curry, the key points of Curry, is matched funding—"But Farmers with 3 billion ought to be doing this kind of work anyhow." Is not what we are really saying through Curry, "Well, we still want to pay farmers, we still want to put money in their pocket. This is a more sophisticated way of doing it."? Why do we not just let some of the land return to wilderness?
  (Mr Macklin) That is an option.
  (Ellie Robinson) That might well be a target. What we are moving towards is better value for public money. At the moment you are not getting the environmental benefits—indeed, you are getting costs from production subsidies, because the objectives are on production. What we are moving towards and what we are talking about really in the Cork model for rural development and environment is putting farming and land management in a much wider rural context.
  (Vicki Hird) I would not disagree with anything National Trust has said. I think probably the bulk of Sustain membership would agree with that, including the consumer groups. I was wondering if you are actually asking consumer groups to give you evidence, because, for instance, the Consumers' Association have just done a major report on the CAP. I suppose I would urge that we actually consider the farm assurance schemes as part of this, because if farmers are getting one set of market assurance schemes on environmental standards and a whole other set of "broad and shallow", standards, huge confusion, huge complication. Where are we at? So I hope this Committee would be able to say that these things should be done in tandem.

Mr Borrow

  777. The starting point of this Committee is on the basis that production subsidies will end. Most of that 3,000 million that goes to British agriculture now as subsidy will no longer be there. So the argument is or should be: How much—and it is not going to be 3,000 million, or it should not in my view be 3,000 million—is the British taxpayer prepared to pay for public goods? How does the public decide what those public goods are? And: How do we ensure that they are delivered by British agriculture properly? I get the impression from comments you have made so far that it is simply viewed not as removing the 3,000 million but shifting the 3,000 million from production subsidies into other forms of support for British agriculture and I think it is important to tackle it. Assume that that 3,000 million has gone rather than can we add a bit more to it. I wonder if you would comment on that.
  (Mr Burton) Just on the issue of: Is our scenario going to cost 3,000 million more or less? it is, I think, misleading simply to look at this as sort of public expenditure. This is about investment. This is about saving money as well as spending money and saving money in a whole range of ways as well as also providing public benefit. So the key choice is: How much is that public benefit worth? We cannot sit here and tell you what the cost is going to be 10 years down the line, if we went down the Curry Commission proposals or the UK Government proposals for mid-term review or whatever. We also recognise the pressure that particularly enlargement will place on the availability of funds. What we do believe is that there is a need to invest in the transition now to enable us to establish a system in future which can respond to the policy circumstances in which we find ourselves, and we recognise that there may be less money available to do that but we are trying to move from a system which has basically been in place for about 50 years, and we cannot just switch it off overnight and expect to be able to operate in a different way. We need to invest in that transition, and that is a combination of the mechanisms of the kind we have discussed and the investment in the skills, the advice, the training, the cultural change which is necessary. That is where we would put the investment now, to be able to deal with whatever the sort of funding sources for the future.

  778. When we get to this point in the future where there are no direct production subsidies, but where there are several mechanisms in place that should then sustain long-term agriculture—and we may have to invest in the short term in order to get from where we are to where we want to get, I accept the logic of that—perhaps I could throw one of the contrasts in that has come through to me in the comments made so far. The argument is that we need to sustain small and medium-sized farms—which means there needs to be long term subsidy—and yet for small and medium-sized farms to be viable, in some ways is often to encourage greater use of fertilizers and pesticides in order to maximise production. Whereas there is an argument that agriculture in the UK can be better sustainable and more environmentally friendly in the long term if farm units are bigger and less intensively farmed and therefore need fewer people, fewer chemicals and fewer fertilisers. The production per acre is less than it is now, but it is one that can compete better internationally, but the farming units are bigger. That in my view would be one model of how British agriculture could become viable and environmentally friendly in terms of all these chemicals and all the rest of it, but it does also go against the rural community based round small family farms.
  (Mr Macklin) Sure.

  779. And there is a clash between those two. It is difficult to see how we can come up with a sustainable model long term that can allow both those concerns to be incorporated in it.
  (Mr Macklin) I think you really have drawn attention to the fact that by going larger you make an assumption that it could be possible to farm in an environmentally responsible way. And that is true, it could be, but not necessarily, and there is no reason why large farms cannot actually target quite a lot of agricultural inputs on land, so I am afraid it is not such an easy distinction. I think that it really comes back to: What do we want on a very crowded island as we find ourselves? What do we actually want the island to perform for us and what value for money can we get from that? If you are going for unit costs of production, you are going to get absenteeism of people on the land, they will come in for the minimum amount of time, they will use very big tackle and they will go again. We see this in parts of the world where it is common place and it is actually happening in parts of Britain already. Our feeling is that that is not going to give you a vibrant rural economy for the other things which would normally happen if you had more people about—and we are on a crowded island and it makes more sense, rather than to destructure and fragment parts of the countryside, to make it work in a slightly more multi-functional way. So it is really trying to knit together the rural White Paper and other things like that rather than just to go down the economic route about: We are making widgets and how do we make them to compete with America or wherever else? Really that is not what we are trying to do, I think.

  (Vicki Hird) It is certainly true that when farmers were making the most returns, the best incomes in the 80s and 90s, the worst environmental damage was happening. So it is not automatically true that, if you are doing better, that you are going to be reducing your adverse impact on the environment. One of the dangers we have, if we concentrate purely on this scenario where there are no subsidies in the future, is that we miss looking at what we actually need, as a society, to do in order to manage that process over the next 10 years. I think removal of all production subsidies is a long way off, a huge way off. I think the UK Government misses a trick by consistently focusing on that as the end point without actually looking at what is happening now and looking at what the impact will be of changes, in slow, gradual change, in transition as the National Trust have been talking about. So I think we ought to be looking at the short and medium term as well as the long term that you have described, and seeing what we actually want. I think there is a case also, as Tony was describing, for more regional and local discussions about what we want. That is certainly happening, but, as you said, we are at the foothills, we are nowhere near getting it right yet, and there is a lot of disagreement, so how that process of democracy works at a regional level is a big question. But that is certainly something we would advocate.
  (Mr Macklin) I would also just point out, I know some of you have been to New Zealand and were persuaded by the lack of subsidy there, but in my experience—and I have spent a bit of time there and I have friends who work there in the agriculture sector—you get into a different scenario. There may be a sparsely populated position, which is very helpful; they have very thin soils, which they do not actually take a huge account of because they have got more land to move on to. The environmental impacts of the changes in the last few years are quite severe in places and bare rock is showing where it was not 20 years ago. There are very, very clear signs that all is not entirely well, and of course they have a massive scale advantage and they put everything in by aeroplane rather than by tractor, so even on the highest mountains you do not get much by way of bio-diversity because it is three species of intensive grasses. These are some of the scenarios which perhaps are not so easy to see when you look at beautiful countryside and it looks fantastic and everybody says, "It is terrific and we are making lots of money." So why do we not just get rid of all these subsidies because it is so simple? We are trying to do things more complicated. We have historical, social, cultural interactions by virtue of the fact that we are so proud and we have a longer-lived historic landscape as well. For all those reasons that perhaps the National Trust particularly wants to champion, I think we have to think more about what incentives can we have to guide people in the direction which will deliver more of what we want. I fully accept what you are saying, with the expansion of Europe and all the rest we do expect the economic subsidies will be changing in the future but it is really this transition. It is not just big bang and it will all be changed tomorrow. We think that would be disastrous. We want really to work, as Tony has said, to a new way of doing things in a gentle but smart way.

 


16   See further memorandum submitted by Sustain, Ev p.222. Back

17   Shorthand for the definition outlined in the World Commission on environment and Development (chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland) report of 1987. Back

 
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