Please God, let it be true. According to the Sunday Times, the Prime Minister is beginning to row back on ‘Net Zero’. The increasingly woke newspaper clearly regards this as a mortal sin – but, unfortunately, the only instance it offers of Boris’s reverse ferret is a reduction in the money the Government is willing to pay farmers to ‘rewild’ their land. Hardly surprising the Government doesn’t think bribing farmers to grow wildflowers instead of crops is a great idea, given the looming food shortage.
Ministers last year announced a post-Brexit scheme that would pay farmers up to £800 million a year — a third of the farming budget — to transform agricultural land into nature-rich forests, coastal wetlands, peatlands and wildflower meadows.
But the fund, called the landscape recovery scheme, has been quietly slashed to just £50 million over three years, less than 1% of the budget.
The policy change is a significant victory for the farming lobby, which had opposed diverting money from food production.
Government insiders say the conflict in Ukraine has heightened the need to channel more support towards food production rather than large landowners.
The U.K. is hugely reliant on imports, producing roughly 64% of our food, down from 78% in the 1980s.
A new national food strategy, due to be published tomorrow, will confirm a shift in emphasis, saying that land management schemes should reflect “farmer demand”.
Conservation groups last night described the U-turn as a “massive betrayal”. Others suggested a link to the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, due to be held in rural Devon on June 23rd.
Senior figures in Whitehall fear the change is part of a wider paring back of Johnson’s net zero goals.
I blame Brexit.
Worth reading in full.