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Aid for Cumbrian farmers

Grant aid is available for Cumbrian farmers to help them clear land of debris and stone left behind after the recent floods. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

RPA meets first formal target for SPS 2009 payments

The RPA has met its first formal target for the issue of SPS 2009 payments having made 75% of full payments by value. This first formal target was due to be met by the end of January. The next formal target to be met is 90% of full payments by value by the end of March. Further information is available on the RPA website.

Calling all Mediators!

We are compiling a list of CAAV members who act as Mediators in order to assist other members in need of this service. Members who would like their details included should contact Kate Russell at kate@caav.org.uk.

Pre-Budget Report - headlines

VAT to return to 17.5% at 01/01/10 SDLT holiday ends 31/12/09 Empty rates relief to continue National Insurance contributions to rise by 0.5% IHT personal allowance threshold frozen at £325,000 50p per month levy on landlines to pay for improved broadband access. As we receive the detailed papers we will post further information on the website.

SPS 2009 payments RPA update

The RPA has issued a 2009 SPS payments update which states that 81% of SPS claimants in England should have received full payments to date following the opening of the payment window on 1st December 2009. Further information is available on the RPA website.

EU approves 300 million euro package for dairy farmers

The EU has approved an emergency aid package for dairy farmers worth 300 million euros. The UK's share of the total is 29.26 million euros which is to be allocated to individual farmers by the end of June 2010. DEFRA has until the end of February to decide the objective criteria it will use to distribute the funds. Further information will be posted as soon as it is available.

2009 CAAV exams success

The CAAV's professional exams of 2009 have seen 62 qualify to apply for Fellowship. This is 11 more than the previous highest figure of 51 in 2006 and 21 up on last year. A further 35 succeeded in passing part of the examinations with another part to sit in future. The results were posted to candidates on 1st December.

EU authorises State Aid to French farmers

The EU has authorised the payment of direct grants, subsidised loans and interest rate subsidies worth up to 15,000 euros to French farmers affected by the current economic crisis. For further information, see the Europa press release.

Cross compliance suspended in Cumbria for flood damage

DEFRA has announced that the cross compliance standards relating to waterlogged soils are suspended in Cumbria to allow clean up and repair operations to take place. Farmers are advised to record any damage to waterlogged soils and note the necessary remedial action on their Soil Protection Review.

HMRC helpline for those affected by floods

HMRC has opened a helpline for those affected by floods who may have lost records or need assistance with making payments. The number is 0845 3000 157 and further information is available from the HMRC website.

HMRC - company car fuel rates

HMRC has published the new advisory fuel rates for company cars, which take effect from 1st December. The rates can be found on the HMRC website.

RPA Workington office re-opens

Following the flooding experienced in Cumbria, the RPA Workington office has re-opened today. Please see the RPA website for further information.

CAAV Centenary Young Valuers' Conference - Early Bird delegate rate closes 25th November

The CAAV Centenary Young Valuers' Conference is taking place at Magdalen College, Oxford on 8th January 2010. The reduced Early Bird booking rate for delegates is closing on 25th November after which time the full rate will be charged. Book now to avoid disappointment. Booking form and brochure are available under "Events" on this website and any enquiries should be directed to Elaine Neades 01594 832979 elaine@caav.org.uk

South Downs confirmed as new National Park

The South Downs has been confirmed as a new National Park. A new South Downs National Park Authority is expected to be in place by April 2010. For further information, see the press release on the DEFRA website.

Marine and Coastal Access Bill gets royal assent

The Marine and Coastal Access Act was passed on 12th November. It introduces a right of access to the coast which will be implemented by Natural England. Consultations on various aspects of coastal access are ongoing and the CAAV is part of the Coastal Access Forum. See Members' Documents / Property for more detailed briefings on coastal access.

Bookings open for the CAAV Centenary Young Valuers' Conference 2010

Bookings are now being taken for the CAAV Centenary Young Valuers' Conference which is being held on Friday 8th January 2010 at Magdalen College, Oxford. The conference is open to all CAAV members aged 35 and under. A four-course, black tie banquet will take place on the Friday evening in the impressive 15th century Dining Hall at Magdalen College and tickets for this are open to partners, guests and friends. Places are limited so early booking is advisable. Further information is available in...

VAT returns to be submitted online

HMRC has announced that from April 2010, all businesses with an annual turnover of £100,000 or more will have to file their VAT returns online. Further information will be sent to businesses by HMRC and there is guidance on the HMRC website.

Welsh Assembly Ministers support TB Eradication Order

Welsh Assembly Ministers have voted (49-9) to support the TB Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 last week. Further information is available on the Welsh Assembly website. It is understood that the Badger Trust has sent a letter to the Welsh Assembly Government as part of the Judicial Review Pre Action Protocol which asks for a response by 19th November 2009....

Whole industry approach must work to deliver Campaign for the Farmed Environment

Farming and conservation groups will today (Thursday November 5) join forces with the Government in a groundbreaking agreement to help farmers and land managers protect and enhance the nation's countryside. The Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) aims to retain the environmental benefits formerly provided by set-aside under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) in three key areas - resource protection, farmland birds and farm wildlife. The industry led voluntary approach, which was given backing...

Wales broadens eligibility criteria for New Entrants Support Scheme

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has confirmed that it is broadening the eligibility criteria for entry into its forthcoming Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) so that it will now be open to farmers who have set up as head of holding for the first time in the 12 month period prior to them submitting their YESS application. Further information is available on the WAG website....

Recognition of professional qualifications in EU

The EU has formally notified the UK of its failure to take action to implement the EU Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications across the EU. The Directive should have been implemented by members states by October 2007 in order to facilitate the movement of professionals to work across the EU. Belgium and Luxembourg have also failed to meet the EU requirements. More information is available on the Europa website....

Reports of challenge to proposed Welsh badger cull

Farmers Guardian has reported that a motion to annul the proposal for a legal badger cull has been put forward by two Welsh Assembly members. The matter will be debated on 4th November. For the full story, go to the Farmers Guardian website.

National Audit Office heavily critical of RPA

The National Audit Office has published a damning report on the administration of the Single Payment Scheme by the RPA, describing a "serious lack of attention to the protection of taxpayers' interests" and a "lack of senior management ownership of the scheme". The report and an executive summary can be downloaded from the NAO website.

Infrastructure Planning Commission - new website

The Infrastructure Planning Commission, which will decide planning applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects, has launched its new website which can be found at www.infrastructure.communities.gov.uk

TB Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 laid by Minister

Following a public consultation, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has laid the TB Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 which gives them powers to make use of culling and vaccination of badgers as part of the Welsh TB Eradication Programme. Further information is available on the WAG website.

European Commission fines Member States for breaches of CAP rules

The European Commission has announced that it will recover €214 million from Member States for non-compliance with EU rules on the implementation of the CAP. Great Britain will be fined €10.94 million for overshooting financial ceilings and for not meeting payment deadlines. The largest fines go to France (€70 million) for f ailings in its cross-compliance checking system....

CRC seeks evidence of rural business performance

The Commission for Rural Communities is seeking evidence of how rural businesses are coping with the recession for its next report to Government. Views are sought on prospects for the future; bank lending; business closures and start-ups; and the use of support measures. To contribute evidence before Friday 9th October, go to the CRC website....

OFT bans Southampton estate agent

The OFT has banned two people and a limited company from trading as estate agents after they failed to join a redress scheme. More details on the OFT website.

DEFRA publishes Soil Strategy for England

DEFRA has published the new Soil Strategy for England which aims to improve the management of soil and tackle degradation. The Strategy can be downloaded from the DEFRA website.

DEFRA announces new Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group

DEFRA has announced the composition of the Responsibility and Cost Sharing (RCS) Advisory Group who are to assist with formulating the way in which RCS may be introduced in England. The Group is to report back to DEFRA Secretary Hilary Benn by late 2010. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Latest edition of Floodnews published

The Environment Agency has published the latest edition of their Floodnews publication, including articles on Shoreline Management Plans and coastal erosion. It can be downloaded from the EA website.

HMRC warn of tax rebate e-mail scam

HMRC has issued a warning of an e-mail scam purporting to inform people of tax rebates. HMRC has confirmed that it would not use e-mail to contact a taxpayer about a rebate. The full warning is available on the HMRC website.

Wales announces £13.3 million for new flood defence measures

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has announced a five year programme that will see £13.3 million of funding made available in Flintshire, Wrexham, Powys, Monmouthshire, Newport, Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan for new flood defence measures. Further information is available on the WAG website.

Scotland is granted TB free status

Scotland has been granted TB free status following a vote by all European Members States yesterday that saw comprehensive support for the move. There are concerns about the effects that this decision may have upon cross border trade and movements but final details are still under discussion. Further information is available on the Scottish Government website.

Orange and T-Mobile announce merger

Mobile communications businesses Orange and T-Mobile have announced that they are to merge in November. The move is expected to be followed by a rationalisation programme which is likely to see the number of mast sites reduced and some high street shops closed.

Infrastructure Planning Commission announces appointments

The Infrastructure Planning Commission has announced the appointment of three commissioners. The IPC will begin to publish new National Policy Statements from this autumn, covering matters including water, gas and electricity infrastructure and renewable energy.

Inquiry warns of dangers of underground LPG pipes

Those managing farms and estates which have bulk LPG tanks should ensure that any underground pipes are checked for safety. An inquiry into an explosion in a Glasgow factory in 2004 which killed 9 people has concluded that corroded underground pipes from LPG tanks were to blame. The Gill Inquiry has called for changes to the health and safety regime to improve guidance and regulation of such underground pipes. The report of the Inquiry can be found on The ICL Inquiry website....

DEFRA announces review of RPA

DEFRA is to carry out a review of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to ensure that it is ready to implement any changes that may come about as part of the CAP changes in 2013 as well as assess what improvements could be made. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

NFU and Ramblers advise on safety for walkers near cattle

The NFU and The Ramblers have joined forces to issue advice to walkers on safety near cattle, following three deaths due to trampling in recent months. New warning signs are available to NFU members and a list of Do's and Don'ts for walkers is being promoted. For more details, go to the NFU website.

HMRC to phase out paper VAT returns

HMRC has announced that it plans to phase out paper VAT returns in favour of online returns. Businesses with a turnover exceeding £100,000 will be required to make online VAT returns after 1st April 2010. Other businesses are likely to have until 2012. Further details are available on the HMRC website....

Vacancies on National Park Authorities

Applications are invited for part-time, unsalaried posts on the National Park Authorities for the South Downs (10 posts), Exmoor, Lake District, North York Moors and Peak District (1 post each). There is also a place available on the Broads Authority and the Chilterns AONB Conservation Board. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 6th October and further information is now available from the DEFRA website....

Minister says Glastir speculation premature

In response to criticism, Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has said that any speculation with regard to Glastir in advance of the availability of operational detail is premature. Further information is available on the WAG website.

RPA issues reminder of deadline for application for new entitlements allocation

The RPA has issued a reminder that all applications (SP20 form) for an allocation of new entitlements for SPS with regard to land used for permanent fruit, vegetables, nursery crops and vines must be received by midnight on Thursday 13th August 2009 to avoid penalties being applied. Please see the news release on the RPA website. Further information about this allocation of new entitlements is also available on the RPA website....

DEFRA launches Food Strategy debate

DEFRA has published its UK Food Security Assessment as part of its work to develop a Food Strategy for the next 20 years. For more information, see the full press release on the DEFRA website.

CAAV Centenary Celebrations Commence

Hundreds of CAAV members and guests joined celebrations to mark the launch of the CAAV Centenary year with events at the Royal Welsh Show and CLA Game Fair in July. Members can read a full report on the events in the Members Documents section of the website.

2009 Agricultural Wages Board Order

DEFRA has confirmed the 2009 Agricultural Wages Board Order which will come into effect from 1st October 2009. Details can be found on the DEFRA website and in their latest press release.

Supreme Court to take over from House of Lords

The House of Lords' role as the final and highest court of appeal will come to an end at the end of July. From October 2009 the new Supreme Court will take over those functions. For further details, see the press release on the Parliament website.

National Parks celebrate 60th anniversary

As part of the 60th anniversary celebrations for National Parks and National Parks week (running from 27th July to 2nd August), Hilary Benn has visited the Peak District National Park which was one of the original four National Parks established in 1951. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Conservative Party launches new Future Countryside website

The Conservative Party has launched a new on-line discussion forum for agricultural matters at the CLA Game Fair. The website "Future Countryside" includes four major themes: Food and Farming; Biodiversity and Conservation; A Changing Environment, and Resources and Regulation.

HSE advice on cattle and public access

The Health and Safety Executive publishes an information sheet on cattle and public access in England and Wales which can be downloaded from the HSE website. A separate sheet with advice for the situation in Scotland is also available.

Ofcom publish 3G "not-spot" maps

Ofcom has published maps showing the extent of 3G coverage across the UK and revealing that many rural areas suffer from poor or non-existant coverage. The maps can be found on Ofcom's website.

Voluntary approach to set-aside mitigation approved

DEFRA has announced that the voluntary approach to set aside mitigation which was proposed by the NFU and CLA has been approved. The full press release is available on the DEFRA website and more detail will be posted on the Members Documents section of this website shortly.

Bank of England interest rates held

The Bank of England has announced that interest rates will remain at 0.5% for the fourth month in a row. See the BBC News website for further detail.

WAG announce new dairy co-ordinator post

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced the creation of a new high-level co-ordinator post to work with dairy farmers in Wales. The post will be advertised nationally shortly. More details are available on the WAG website.

RPA: Single Payment 2008 - payment update

The RPA has published the latest figures on payments made for the SPS 2008. These show that as at 30th June 2009, over 104,000 claims have been paid, from a total of about 106,500 claimants, amounting to 99.7% of the total fund. The full press release can be found on the RPA website.

DEFRA wins pesticides appeal

FWi has reported that the government appeal against the High Court ruling that DEFRA had failed in its duty to ensure that the application of pesticides did not cause harm to rural residents has been decided in DEFRA's favour. The case had been pursued by Georgina Downs who lives near farmland in West Sussex. It is understood that DEFRA will be issuing a consultation in the autumn with regard to public access to farm spray records as a result of this judgment. A statement has been issued by...

Fruit and vegetable marketing regulations clarified

DEFRA has confirmed that following clarification of the rules relating to the marketing of fruit and vegetables as a result of new EU marketing regulations that take effect tomorrow (1st July 2009), consumers should now be able to more readily access "imperfect" fruits and vegetables in their local shops and supermarkets. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

DEFRA reduces costs for environmental permits

Environment Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has today announced the introduction of reduced fees for smaller businesses who need to apply to a local authority to obtain a pollution permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

DEFRA announce £10 million for rivers and lakes

DEFRA has announced a £10 million package of funding to improve rivers, lakes and canals. The funds will largely be distributed through the Association of Rivers Trusts. The full press release can be found on the DEFRA website.

TB Table Valuations case refused leave to appeal to House of Lords

The NFU backed bovine TB compensation table valuations legal case involving David Partridge has been refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords which means that the decision handed down by the Court of Appeal on 1st April 2009 stands. Please see the NFU Press Release for further information.

English Heritage urges Councils to use Article 4 Directions in Conservation Areas

The latest edition of English Heritage's annual "Heritage at Risk" register published this week has shown that 1 in 7 of some 9,300 Conservation Areas in England is at risk. English Heritage has therefore urged that councils make more use of Article 4 Directions to retain the character of these areas. Please click here to view English Heritage's news release which contains further information....

DEFRA announces first round of flood protection grants for householders

DEFRA has announced the first round of new grants to assist householders to protect houses from flooding. The funding has been made available as part of the Flood Protection Grant Scheme following the government response to Sir Michael Pitt's review of the floods in 2007. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

DECC 5 point plan for climate change

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has launched a five point plan to guide UK climate action. The full press release can be read at the DECC website.

Chief Scientific Advisor to be appointed for the first time in Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser for the first time ever in Wales. The creation of this role follows a review carried out by Professor Christopher Pollack on behalf of the First Minister in 2008. Further information is available on the WAG website.

Wales confirms no National Envelope to apply to Single Payment Scheme

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has announced that there will be no application of a National Envelope to the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) in Wales. A National Envelope provision was included within the CAP Health Check and was consulted upon in Wales earlier this year. Further information is available on the WAG website.

Goverment publishes The Digital Britain Report

The Government has published the final report "Digital Britain" which lays out the long-term strategy for digital delivery for the UK. The report can be veiwed on the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)website.

CAAV welcomes Prince of Wales as Centenary Patron

The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) has been honoured by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales accepting the CAAV's invitation to him to be its Centenary Patron. The CAAV will be celebrating its Centenary over the year to June 2010 with a range of events. The Prince of Wales has agreed to be Patron for that Centenary Year.

CAAV elects President for the Centenary

The CAAV AGM at Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday 12th June elected Mark Webb as its President for the Centenary Year 2009/2010. Mark Webb, who is a founding partner of WebbPaton, based at Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, said, "The CAAV has got a century of achievement under its belt and we are looking forward to our second century. Agricultural valuers have shown themselves to be practical and adaptable as times and client's needs have changed; professionals in the countryside giveing support to all...

A further new Minister joins DEFRA

A further new Minister has been appointed to DEFRA to replace Lord Hunt as Parliamentary Under Secretary as a result of Lord Hunt moving over to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, having previously shared his responsibilities between the two departments. Dan Norris MP is Lord Hunt's replacement and further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Fitzpatrick joins DEFRA Ministerial team

Following the departure of Jane Kennedy from government yesterday, the DEFRA ministerial team has been joined by Jim Fitzpatrick MP. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

New Government Department for Business

Two Government departments (BERR and DIUS) are to be merged to form the new Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Further information is available from the BERR website.

Benn remains as Secretary of State at DEFRA

Following today's Cabinet reshuffle, Hilary Benn is remaining as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Dairy Farmers of Britain in receivership

Dairy Farmers of Britain appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers as receivers on 3rd June 2009. Further information on the position of dairy farmers supplying DFB can be obtained from the DFB page on the PWC website, or from the DFB website.

Lands Tribunal changes

As from the 1st June 2009, the Lands Tribunal has become the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal as part of the reform of the whole of the tribunals system in the United Kingdom. In practice it is unlikely that there will be significant practical changes to the work of the Lands Tribunal. Further information is available on the Tribunals Service website.

Severn Estuary Shoreline Management Plan

The Environment Agency have opened a consultation on a review of the Severn Estuary Shoreline Management Plan, details of which are available on the Environment Agency website.

River Basin Management Plans

A reminder that the consultation period for the draft River Basin Management Plans closes on 22nd June. Draft RBMPs have been produced for the Anglian, Humber, Severn, Thames, Dee, North-west, Northumbria, South-east, South-west, Solway Tweed and Western Wales districts. All the documents can be found on the Environment Agency website.

Water Framework Directive workshops - Wales

The Environment Agency has announced that it is holding free Water Framework Directive workshops in Glamorgan on 1st June, Abergele on 10th June and Ceredigion on 11th June. Further details are available on the Environment Agency website.

Forestry Commission Wales: Grants for Phytophthora control

FC Wales has announced grants for work to control the possible spread of Phytophthora around urban areas in south Wales and the Conwy Valley in northwest Wales. Phytophthora is believed to be responsible for Sudden Oak Death. Further details are available on the Forestry Commission website.

'Rural proofing' to be strengthened

The Commission for Rural Communities have launched a new rural proofing toolkit to help Government departments to ensure that their policies recognise the particular issues faced by rural communities. For further details, see the CRC website.

VOA e-mail scam

The Valuation Office website is reporting an e-mail scam. They have reports that e-mails or letters have been received requesting funds for a 'clean report of findings' so that monies can be released. The VOA website confirms that any such correspondence is not from VOA and should be ignored. The full press release can be read on the VOA website.

DEFRA offers 50% discount on remaining stocks of Bluetongue vaccine

DEFRA has announced that it is offering a 50% discount on its remaining stocks of Bluetongue vaccine with effect from today (7th May). Further information is available on the DEFRA website. WAG have now also confirmed that they are offering the same 50% discount on remaining Bluetongue vaccine stocks in Wales....

Natural England to look at possible extensions to Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

Natural England (NE) are to look again at possible extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. This work had been stopped in the light of legal aspects being considered as part of the South Downs National Park Public Inquiry however following the Inspector's findings in this Inquiry with regard to Natural England's approach to designation, NE have re-commenced this work in the north west. Further information is available on the NE website....

ARLA launches licensing scheme for letting agents

From today (5th May), all members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) will have to be licensed under the ARLA Licensing Scheme as part of their membership. This Scheme has been introduced to reduce bad practices seen within the residential letting sector. Further information is available on the ARLA website.

DEFRA publishes details of SPS payments on CAP Payments website

Following the launch of the CAP Payments website last year, DEFRA has now added Single Payment Scheme (SPS) payments data for the period 16th October 2007 to 15th October 2008. It should be noted that where there may have been an overpayment made during that period, the data shown is likely to include this overpayment and we understand from DEFRA that this data will not be updated. Further information is available on the RPA website....

Benn announces increase in rural grant funding

Hilary Benn, Environment Secretary, has announced an increase in the level of grants available under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for farmers wishing to diversify into no-agricultural businesses and start up or expand small rural businesses. Rural Development Agencies will be allowed to raise the level funding granted for such projects from 50% to 100%. DEFRA is now seeking approval for the proposals from the European Commission in order that these changes can be...

RPA: Single Payment 2008 payment update

The RPA have published their latest figures on 2008 SPS payments. As at 30th April 2009, £1.55 billion of payments had been made, which is 95.23% of the total fund. Payments had been made to over 102,000 claimants, amounting to 96% of the total. The full press release can be read at the RPA website.

TB table valuations case to seek leave to appeal to House of Lords

The NFU has today announced that they are going to support David Partridge in seeking leave to appeal to the House of Lords following the Court of Appeal decision allowing DEFRA's appeal earlier this month regarding the use of average table values when paying compensation for cattle affected by bovine TB. Further information is available on the NFU website.

Budget latest: VAT and SDLT

The Chancellor has announced that the VAT cut to 15% will remain until December 2009. The Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday for houses under £175,000 is extended to the end of the year. A more detailed Budget Briefing will follow.

NFU and CLA launch Campaign for the Farmed Environment

The NFU and CLA have launched their proposal for an alternative voluntary approach to set aside mitigation, branded the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. The full press releases can be found on the NFU website and the CLA website.

RPA systems 24th - 27th April

RPA have announced that it is carrying out a systems upgrade on Friday 24th April. The Customer Service Centre will not be able to access detailed customer records on Friday 24th, but will still deal with general scheme queries. The detailed records will be available again on Monday 27th April.

RASE announces that 2009 Royal Show will be the last

RASE have announced that the 2009 Royal Show will be the last ever. The event is to be scrapped following several years of falling attendance and increasing competition from other events. The RASE's full press release can be read on their website.

RPA to publish CAP payment details

The RPA is to publish CAP payment details for payments made between 16th October 2007 and 15th October 2008 on a website. The information, which is published in keeping with requirements of EC legislation, will include the trading name, the amount, the local town and first part of the postcode. The website is www.cap-payments.defra.gov.uk and it will go live on 30th April 2009. For the full press release, go to the RPA website....

DEFRA statistics on biodiversity indicators

DEFRA have published statistics on UK Biodiversity Indicators which give a mixed picture of changes to biodiversity in the UK. Whilst some indicators showed both short and long term improvement, others showed declines. The press release with further detail can be found on the DEFRA website.

Agricultural contractor fined for slurry pollution

An agricultural contractor in Wiltshire has been fined £1,800 plus costs after being prosecuted by the Environment Agency for polluting a brook with slurry which had run off an adjacent field. The full story can be found on the Environment Agency website.

DEFRA: Compensation tables for April

DEFRA have published the latest compensation tables for animals slaughtered for TB, BSE, brucellosis and EBL for April 2009. They can be found on the DEFRA website.

East Anglian Grazing Exchange

A new Grazing Exchange has been set up in East Anglia to match livestock owners in search of grazing land with landowners who have grass available. The Grazing Exchange is supported by Natural England, Easton College and the Eastern Region Grazing Forum. More information is available on the Eastern Region Grazing Forum website.

Lottery cash for village halls

The Commission for Rural Communities has announced that £19 million of funding from the Bog Lottery Fund will be available to 55 villages to restore or build village halls. For further information, go to the CRC website.

Commission for Rural Communities: Rural Recession Report - Housing

CRC have produced the latest in thier series of Rural Recession Intelligence Reports, focussing on rural housing. This finds that despite a fall in rural house prices, affordability remains a problem and repossessions are on the increase. A summary of the report can be found on the CRC website.

DEFRA publishes regional sustainable development indicator results

DEFRA has published regional sustainable development indicator results for English Regions. These indicators are to support the UK Government Sustainable Development Strategy and it has been possible to produce regional versions for use by the Government Office Regions. It is hoped that these indicators will help to provide a better perspective of sustainable development within regions. Further information is available on the DEFRA website....

South Downs to become England's ninth National Park

Hilary Benn, Environment Secretary, has today announced that the South Downs is to become England's ninth National Park. This will see an area of 627 square miles becoming designated with this new status. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Wales announces badger cull to form part of TB eradication programme

Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has today announced the next steps to be taken with the Welsh TB eradication programme. A badger cull is to be carried out within an Intensive Action Pilot Area (IAPA) which is to be located within Dyfed, with North Pembrokeshire being the preferred location. Further assessments are to now be carried out. Further information is available on the WAG website.

Welsh Forestry prize on offer

The Forestry Commission are inviting nominations for the Ian Forshaw Memorial Medal which recognises outstanding contributions to Welsh forestry. Further information is available on the Forestry Commission website and the closing date for nominations is 15th June 2009.

New edition of the Farm Buildings Handbook

RIDBA have announced that a new edition of the Farm Buildings Handbook will be launched on April 7th. The book covers all aspects of farm building construction including legislation, planning, design and specification. It will be available direct from RIDBA or via Amazon or specialist retailers, priced at £12.

DEFRA announces injectable bovine TB vaccine for badgers available from 2010

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has announced today that an injectable bovine TB vaccine for badgers will begin to be used from 2010. Initially vaccination will be carried out in up to six areas where there is a high incidence of bovine TB and will continue for a minimum of five years. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

English Heritage survey of Conservation Areas

English Heritage is launching the first national survey of England's 9,300 Conservation Areas in order to assess their condition. The survey will take the form of a questionnaire to local authorities and the results are expected to be announced in June. For further information, go to the English Heritage website.

Bovine TB compensation case appeal judgment reserved

It is understood from reports by the Farmers Guardian that the bovine TB compensation case (Partridge Farms) appeal which was heard in the Court of Appeal on 16th and 17th March has concluded and judgment has been reserved. Further information is available on the Farmers Guardian website.

Dog walker fined for disturbing birds on SSSI

Natural England have brought a case against a dog walker who allowed 3 dogs to roam off their leads in a Nature Reserve which was also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The dog walker was prosecuted under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and fined £250 with £250 costs. The full press release can be found on the Natural England website.

Farmer find for pesticide pollution incident

A Suffolk farmer was fined £2,500 with £4,609 costs when he admitted causing pollution of a watercourse with pesticide. The pesticide had travelled through drains from the sprayer filling site to the stream, where it killed crayfish and invertebrates. The Environment Agency stated that the case showed the importance of siting pesticide handling areas well away from drainage systems. A more detailed report is available on the Environment Agency website....

RPA reaches second SPS 2008 payments target

Figures released today by the RPA show that they have met their second target of making 90 per cent of SPS 2008 full payments by value by 31st March 2009. The latest figures show that £1.47 billion has been paid which equates to 90.4% of the total estimated fund (£1.63 billion). Further information is available on the RPA website.

Soil Association announces no change to organic feed

Following a consultation process, the Soil Association has decided against allowing a 'holiday' from the organic standards required for animal feed given to organic stock as a result of the current economic climate. The proposal earlier this year was that organic stock could be fed non-organic feed to assist farmers affected by the falling demand for organic products. As a result of this decision, all Soil Association food will have to continue to be produced to full organic standards. Further...

Avian flu restrictions lifted in East Anglia

DEFRA has confirmed that following further laboratory tests, the HN61 avian flu virus found on poultry premises in East Anglia is of low pathogenicity. As a result the restrictions imposed have been lifted. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

RPA commences HFA 2009 payments

The RPA has commenced making 2009 HFA payments. All successful claimants should receive a 75% partial payment, with the remaining 25% being paid once inspections and validation of claims is completed. Further information is available on the RPA website.

World's biggest bird feeder on Game Conservancy Trust farm

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (formerly the Game Conservancy Trust) have launched a world record attempt to provide the largest bird feeder on their farm at Loddington in Leicestershire. The full story is available on the GWCT website.

DEFRA confirms avian flu in East Anglia

Following veterinary investigations last week, DEFRA has confirmed that avian influeza (H6N1strain) has been found on two poultry premises in East Anglia. Further tests are being carried out with results not likely for some days. Restrictions remain in place at the affected premises. Further information is available on DEFRA's website.

Sport England unveils £10 million fund for sport in rural areas

Sport England will open a themed funding round on 1st April 2009 to invest in sport in rural communities. Funding opportunities will be available to organisations such as local sports clubs and community groups, with a minimum grant of £10,000. For further information, see the Sport England website.

Scotland extends vaccination deadline for Bluetongue

The compulsory deadline for Bluetongue vaccination in Scotland has been extended from 30th April 2009 to 30th June 2009 for farmers who have livestock on uninhabited islands and remote hill sheep flocks located north of the Great Glen, the latter group will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and an application for the vacination extension will have to be submitted. This is as a result of welfare concerns. Further information is available on the Scottish Government website....

Wales to start 2009 Tir Mynydd payments next week

The Welsh Assembly will commence making 2009 Tir Mynydd (the Welsh equivalent of the Hill Farm Allowance Scheme in England) payments next week. The Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, has also indicated that an announcement will be forthcoming soon with regard to the future of support in the Less Favoured Area following the review of Axis 2 agri-environment schemes. Further information is available on the Welsh Assembly website....

Wild Deer - report by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has produced a report on wild deer in the UK which gives an overview of deer populations, the legislation surrounding deer and some of the impacts which an increasing deer population is having on the countryside. The report is available on the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technologywebsite.

Scottish Government outline initiatives for agriculture

The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs outlined a number of initiatives for Scottish agriculture during a speech to the Scottish NFU Conference, including: * Expanding the new entrants measure * A new agriculture subsidy appeals procedure * Five 'Climate Change Actions' * Creation of a pilot project to reduce red tape * Publication of research into pigmeat labelling The full press release on the speech can be found on the Scottish Government website....

RPA release CAP payment data

In response to a request under the Freedom of Information legislation, the RPA has released data on payments made between 2005 and 2007. The data includes the name, address and postcode of the recipients, plus the amount and date of the payment and the scheme it was under. For the full press release, visit the RPA website.

Reading University Confidential Survey on TB in England

Reading University are conducting a confidential on-line consultation about the experience and incidence of TB in England since 1980. The survey is estimated to take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete on-line and can be accessed from the Reading University website.

Welsh farmers urged to vaccinate for bluetongue

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales has written to all vets in Wales urging them to encourage farmers to take up vaccination of their livestock against bluetongue serotype 8. The full press release can be found on the WAG website.

DEFRA: New Task Group for Anaerobic Digestion

DEFRA have established a new Task Group to develop a plan for increasing the uptake of anaerobic digestion technology as a source of renewable heat and power. For more information, go to the DEFRA website.

Hilary Benn to consult on voluntary approach to set aside mitigation

Hilary Benn, speaking at the NFU Conference, has announced that a voluntary approach will be one option up for consideration during a consultation on set aside mitigation measures. Mandatory and incentive-led options will also be considered during the consultation, which is expected this spring with a decision to be taken in the summer. For the full press release, go to the DEFRA website.

Sense About Science: Making Sense of GM

The organisation Sense About Science have produced a booklet entitled "Making Sense of GM: What is the genetic modification of plants and why are scientists doing it?" . The publication is available to download from the Sense About Science website.

RPA makes further run of 2006 SPS interest payments

The RPA have made a further run of interest payments to farmers who received their full 2006 SPS payments after the close of the payment window on 30th June 2007. Further information is available on the RPA website.

Help with backdated rates bills

The Government has announced that businesses facing backdated rates bills will be able to make payments spread over eight years. New legislation has been published and comes into force on 9th March 2009. The full press release can be read at the DCLG website.

Natural England and Ministry of Defence sign declaration of intent

Natural England and the Ministry of Defence have signed a declaration of intent to improve and preserve the natural habitat within the Defence Estate. Defence Estates are unable to enter into the Environmental Stewardship Schemes which are open to farmers in England and this agreement provides a framework for the two organisations to work together to enhance the stewardship of the natural environment, facilitate safe public access and seek to mitigate the environmental impact of military...

Government to procure only certified timber

From 1st April 2009, the Government and its agencies will procure only timber and timber products which are independently certified as being legally and sustainably produced. For further details, see the Forestry Commission website.

RPA makes further run of 2005 SPS interest payments

The RPA has made a further run of interest payments to farmers who received their full 2005 SPS payment after the regulatory payment window closed on 30th June 2006. Further information is available on the RPA website.

Wales urges farmers to vaccinate early for Bluetongue

Welsh Assembly Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, and the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, have been urging farmers to vaccinate early in 2009 against Bluetongue. Further information is available on the WAG website.

DCMS publishes 'Digital Britain' report

The Government has published an interim report looking at the the plans for the UK's transition to digital. A news release and the full report is available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport(DCMS) website.

Judicial Review of eco-town planning process finds in favour of Government

Mr Justice Walker has found in favour of the Government in the eco-town Judicial Review taken forward by the BARD campaign. He considered that the consultation process was adequate at the preliminary stage of the eco-towns shortlist selection process. A summary of the judgment is available on Bailii website. A news release and further information may be viewed on the Weston Front website....

RPA meets first target for 2008 SPS payments

Latest figures published by the RPA show that just under £1.23 billion has been paid for 2008 SPS (75.2% of estimated total fund of £1.63 billion). This means the RPA has met its first target of issuing 75% of full payments by 31st January 2009. The next target is for the RPA to have made 90% of full payments by 31st March 2009. Further information is available on the RPA website....

RPA releases 2008 SPS payment figures update

The RPA has published figures today to give an update on progress with SPS 2008 payments. The total value of 2008 SPS payments made is just short of £1.2 billion (73.2% of the estimated total fund of £1.63 billion) with in excess of 87,500 customers (82% of estimated total of 106,500 claimants) have received a full payment. Further information is available on the RPA website.

HMRC website - new Capital Gains Tax pages

HMRC have revised the Capital Gains Tax section of their website to make it easier to find the information you need. There are sections on property, trusts, businesses and shares, plus advice on self assessment. The new pages are part of a gradual overhaul of information on the HMRC website.

NVZ appeal deadline extended

DEFRA has extended the deadline for submission of evidence where a farmer wishes to appeal a new NVZ designation. Farmers must still notify DEFRA that an appeal is being made by 31st January but will have until 10th March to submit supporting evidence. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

European Parliament vote for pesticides reform

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a new EU Regulation on pesticides and plant protection. The British government raised concerns that no impact assessment has been carried out to examine the potential consequences of the removal of some existing pesticides on the agriculture and horticulture industries. The proposed new legislation will now have to be adopted by the European Commission and is likely to come into force later this year.

RPA issues Single Payment Scheme 2008 payments update

The RPA has published further figures today which show that just under £1.1 billion of SPS 2008 payments (67.4% of the estimated total fund of £1.63 billion) have been made. Full payments have been made to just over 84,000 claimants, out of a total of approximately 106,500 claimants. Further information is available on the RPA website.

DEFRA launches new Food and Environment Research Agency

DEFRA has announced the lauch of the new Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) with effect from 1st April 2009. Fera will incorporate DEFRA's Central Science Laboratory, Plant Health Division, Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate and the Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Environment Agency confirms digestate from anaerobic digestion is no longer "waste

The Environment Agency has revised its guidance on the treatment of digestate from anaerobic digestion. It now confirms that where the only waste feedstock in an AD plant is agricultural manure or slurry, the digestate will not be classified as "waste" if it is used as a fertiliser spread on agricultural land. The full briefing note can be found on the Environment Agency website....

RPA releases SPS 2008 payment figures

The RPA has today released updated figures relating to 2008 SPS payments made as at 31st December 2008. Almost 70,000 customers have received full SPS payments totalling over £960 million (59 per cent of the estimated total fund). Further information is available on the RPA website.

Farmers may appeal new NVZ designations until 31st January

From 1st January 2009, the new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) designations came into effect which sees an increase from around 55 per cent to 70 per cent of land in England. Farmers however who wish to appeal a new designation may do so if: the land does not drain into water identified as nitrate-polluted, and/or the water to which the land drains should not have been identified as polluted (DEFRA website guidance) Any such appeal must be submitted by 31st January 2009. Further information...

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