Red tape cut for farmers

On 1 October, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will introduce the Heather and Grass Burning Regulations and Code 2007, which is aimed at ensuring that burning in moorland and heathland is done safely and with respect for the environment, while at the same time reducing red tape. New regulations include banning certain types of burning that result in high-risk soil exposure or erosion, which, it is hoped, will help achieve favourable condition on Sites of Special Scientific Interest, particularly in upland England where over 65,000 hectares of moorland are in unfavourable condition due to burning. Fines of up to £1,000 could be imposed on those who ignore the ban.

Defra is also announcing the new Regulatory Reform Deer Order 2007 (England and Wales), that will improve the management of wild deer while preventing serious damage to property. These regulations follow closely behind the new reforms for game licensing that came into effect at the start of August and allow game dealers to shoot all year round.

Jeff Rooker, the Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food who introduced the measures, said: ‘These reforms illustrate Defra’s commitment to modern regulation and cutting red tape.’ They are part of Defra’s commitment to reduce administrative burdens by 25 per cent by 2010.

Thus far, the regulations have been widely praised. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is delighted. ‘We welcome the reduction in the amount of red tape these new regulations bring,’ said NFU Countryside Adviser Andrea Graham, ‘and the lighter touch approach will benefit the vast majority of burners who burn responsibly.’

David Fursdon, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), is ‘delighted that Defra has launched this initiative’, while Lindsay Waddell, Chairman of the National Gamekeeper’s Organisation (NGO), added that she too is delighted: ‘The Government has recognized the importance of sustainable burning in the management of heather moorland, a world-scarce resource.’