§ Mr. Steen
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) when the grant for removal of hedges in order to amalgamate fields was introduced; and when it was discontinued;
(2) what level of grant was paid to farmers in each of the last three years to assist them in removing hedges in order to amalgamate fields; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Fenner
[pursuant to her reply, 17 July 1986]: Grants for the removal of hedges to facilitate field amalgamation were introduced in 1957. They were discontinued in 1974 and no grants have been paid for this purpose since 1976. The agriculture inmprovement scheme, which was introduced on 1 October 1985, now encourages the provision, replacement or improvement of hedges through grants at rates of 60 per cent. in the less-favoured areas and 30 per cent. elsewhere. These high rates of grant reflect our concern for the conservation of the environment.