The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) is encouraged by the government’s Plans to deliver a better, fairer farming system in England, as announced today by George Eustice.

Over the past 27 years, the CRT has been dedicated to restoring and protecting the wider countryside and its wildlife. The CRT has used incentives such as ‘Commercial conservation rates’ so farmers pay rent that’s set at a lower level to allow them to farm in a wildlife friendly way.

On its 16 sites, spanning the length of the UK, the CRT has implemented conservation improvements alongside profitable, practical farming and land management.

CRT Trustee Robin Page comments: “This is what the CRT has been fighting for since the trust was established in 1993, the first charity in Britain founded to promote wildlife-friendly farming. Now in a post-Brexit era, it is so positive to hear that finally farmers will be encouraged by the government to recreate habitats so our native wildlife can thrive. The CRT has already brought back Brown Hares, Water Voles, Barn Owls, Otters, Grey partridges, Orchids and 26 species of butterfly”.

The ‘roadmap’ sets out how government plans to introduce a new post-Brexit system that is designed in the interests of English farmers that financially rewards farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices.

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, recognised the farm’s success at the charity’s 25th birthday celebrations in 2018, describing Lark Rise Farm as a “farming blueprint for the future”.

Simple changes on Lark Rise Farm, such as over-wintering stubble, creating wildlife strips, bat corridors and mosaic crop fields, and planting over 4.5 miles of hedgerows, has meant it is now home to an abundance of wildlife.Skylark In Stubble © John Murray

As George Eustice stated this morning: “There will be an incentive for farming sustainably, grants to help space for nature and grants for farmers to buy new equipment” – all items the CRT has been promoting since it began in 1993.

The CRT was established in 1993 by Robin Page, and the late artist and conservationist, Gordon Beningfield, in response to growing fears about intensive and industrialised farming and its impact on British wildlife. 

Prior to establishing the charity, these two pioneers had approached existing environmental organisations asking for their assistance to promoting wildlife-friendly farming but were greeted with a lack of interest outside existing wildlife reserves.