Following on from the 2019 report Reviving County Farms in England (accesstoland.eu), CPRE, the countryside charity for England, in collaboration with the New Economics Foundation and Shared Assets have published an inspiring new report ‘Reimagining council farms: a vision for 2040’.
Analysing the key issues and opportunities for councils, communities and the land-based sector, this report is a call to central and local government to work together to put in place a new shared purpose, framework and sustained investment, and sets out how farms and farmland owned by councils should be valued, secured and managed for the benefit of all.
New research and analysis shows how important council farms are acre for acre in giving people the chance to farm in their own right - at around 1% of the farmed area and 2.5% of the let area, the 98,000 ha of council farms provide far more new chances for people to farm hectare for hectare than other let land.
Post Brexit, post CAP, the land-based sector, and arguably even citizens, are becoming familiar with the main tenet of the proposed new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme: public money for public goods. The many public benefits farms bring for the common good – providing food, regulating climate, recharging and filtering water supply, providing well-being space in nature etc – is only just beginning to be embedded in public agricultural policy but as owners of public land, local authorities are uniquely placed at the heart of the conversation with a unique opportunity to effect change.
This report suggests how public land can be re-valued and how local authorities with land holdings can show leadership by supporting the success of ELM by working in partnership with their tenants to lock in delivery of public benefits for the long term. Case studies provide practical and inspiring examples and policy asks are contextualised with both broad and in-depth consideration of the issues for communities, councils and the land-based sector.
To discuss or comment on the report or for more information, contact Shared Assets at hello [AT] sharedassets.org.uk.
Download: Reimagining council farms: a vision for 2040 (cpre.org.uk)