Agri-environmental Schemes operate at multiple levels; from encouraging traditional farming practices and protecting landscapes to specifying management regimes that will reduce water pollution.
Agricultural intensification has led to a loss of biodiversity and scenic landscapes, water pollution (for example by nitrates), reduced countryside access, and increased pressure on our most important wildlife areas. The protection and management of most sites depends on individual landowners and occupiers and there are now a variety of schemes and instruments in place which attempt to redress the balance.
The Schemes vary greatly in both policy and implementation. Many of the schemes were covered by the England Rural Development Plan (ERDP), which was instigated in March 2000. Nick Brown, then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food stated:
Last December I announced the Government's plans for a £1.6
billion Rural Development Programme, involving £300 million of new
Exchequer funding. Now that we have secured European Commission approval for our
plans, I am delighted to launch the England Rural Development Programme.
The England Rural Development Programme underpins the Government's New Direction for Agriculture by helping farmers and foresters to respond better to consumer requirements and become more competitive, diverse, flexible and environmentally responsible. It also provides help to rural businesses and communities which need to adapt and develop.
This programme ran until 2006. A new Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE) which will run from 2007 until 2013 was approved by Brussels in December 2007. The Budget of £3.9 billion is more than twice that of the 2000-2006 programme.
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