HC Deb 25 June 1997 vol 296 c543W
Mr. Paice

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his plans for the countryside stewardship scheme. [5185]

Mr. Morley

Countryside Stewardship is the main environmental land management scheme providing incentives for farmers and land managers in England outside the Environmentally Sensitive Areas. It provides a very important mechanism for helping to fulfil our Biodiversity Strategy commitments as well as offering benefits for landscape, history and public enjoyment of the countryside.

The scheme will continue to expand with £5 million available for approval of new agreements in 1997–98 and a further £5 million 1998–99 when the total annual expenditure on the scheme will have risen to £21 million.

In addition we now propose a further expansion of the scheme. We wish to test a series of new options to enhance bio-diversity of arable areas through the introduction of a pilot scheme in 1998 to be called Arable Stewardship. One of the two proposed pilot areas is in the south Cambridgeshire/Suffolk area with the other being in the West Midlands.