No benefit in paying wealthy landowners to rewild land

By Letters
Trees and shrubbery reclaimed much of the extensive derelict site of the Beardmore Naval Construction Works at Dalmuir.
A rewilding site in Dalmuir. ‘When the UK produces less food, we don’t consume any less, we buy it from abroad,’ says Hugh Padfield. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The title of your article (England’s farmers to be paid to rewild land, 6 January) is misleading. George Eustice and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are planning to pay landowners (mostly not farmers) to rewild land. That is, pay huge sums of public money to extremely rich individuals to do almost nothing.

Wealthy businessmen have bought agricultural land to avoid tax, to benefit from its exemption from inheritance tax. They will now be paid to evict tenant farmers and stop food production on that land. Can this be justified by the positive impact on the environment? No.

When the UK produces less food, we don’t consume any less, we buy it from abroad. Our farming has the highest environmental standards in the world. So importing food, rather than producing it in the UK, means increasing environmental damage.

We need to produce food through carbon neutral and sustainable means. That can be achieved by paying farmers to farm in the right way, not by paying landowners to terminate food production.
Hugh Padfield
Dairy farmer, Kelston, Somerset

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