§ Mr. Laurence Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to encourage a broader availability of stewardship schemes under the modulation and environmental subsidies scheme; and if she will make a statement.
§ Alun Michael
[holding answer 5 November 2001]: We are planning for a major expansion of the Countryside Stewardship budget as is now well known. Under the England Rural Development Programme, expenditure on agri-environment schemes is scheduled to increase from £119 million this year to £197 million in 2006–07. This expansion is partly funded by receipts from modulation. Subject to EU approval, we also plan to introduce a number of new arable options to Countryside Stewardship next year, which will provide greater opportunities for arable farmers to join the scheme. Over the longer term, we have started a major review of agri-environment schemes which will consider a range of issues, including the scope for further broadening of the schemes. This is consistent with the Department's policy of seeking further CAP reform to redirect expenditure from agricultural subsidies towards measures to support environmentally friendly farming and the wider rural economy.