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From Norfolk RCC
Land use and development is a big subject and the structure of regulation and policies is complex.
Agriculture covers vast areas of Norfolk and therefore has a significant effect on wildlife and countryside.
In relation to the fragmentation issues discussed elsewhere, changes in both the scale and the methods used in Agriculture over the past 60 or 70 years have had a great impact on areas of semi-natural habitats both in terms of links between them and their health.
At the same time agriculture can also provide valuable habitat and sensitive management can not only reduce impacts but turn them into positives. This is particularly important in areas adjacent to and between the remaining semi-natural habitats, where this improves the links and ability of the habitat to expand while providing a buffer between agricultural land use and the semi-natural areas.
As well as in these areas, sensitive land management can increase biodiversity overall. Particularly over the last 10-15 years there has been a growing awareness of the positive role farming can play in the conservation and protection of our wildlife and countryside. There are now a suite of financial incentives administered from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that are designed to encourage different levels of activity in relation to environmental protection and conservation. These range from smaller measures to provide a basic level of environmental protection and 'good stewardship' through to more wide ranging initiatives.
You can find out more about these 'Agri-environment' schemes in the [farming and environment sections of the Defra website].
Your search in Step 2 has probably already identified areas that are enrolled into different schemes. If you can convince the landowners to engage in some of your wider efforts, you may be able to jointly come up with some ideas that help you achieve some of your objectives and also help the landowner to secure the funding from Defra to achieve them.
In terms of further reading:
- [Natural England's website] has various information on a range of issues including farming, leisure and planning and management
- the [farming section of the RSPB website] provides useful advice to farmers which also gives a flavour of the background. In terms of what farmers themselves are doing
- the [National Farmers Union website] is a useful source of information and contacts on a range of farming and countryside issues
- the [Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group] , an organisation set up specifically to give conservation advice to farmers.
Development and infrastructure
As well as historical changes agricultural practices and development, there are continuing (and increasing) pressures for further development to meet demand for housing and jobs in Norfolk. This has led to Norwich and other major towns securing 'Growth Point Status' from the Government's Department of Communities and Local Government. This brings with it additional funding to support development efforts.
This, of course, will add pressures on top of the existing ones. A number of Councils are trying to establish strategies with the aim of providing 'green infrastructure', promoting ecological networks and continuity between habitats, community well being in order to complement and support housing and economic growth.
In short, more development brings with it more pressures on the environment. However, with sensitive management and design the impacts can be minimised or even made into positives. To this end the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership has published supplementary planning guidance for Norfolk. This can be found on the [Norfolk Biodiversity Website] and amoung other things covers:
- biodiversity principles
- case studies showing how to apply these biodiversity principles to new developments
- information about what to expect from an ecological survey