A positive future for green farming

Trees reflected in the lake at Stourhead, Wiltshire, in May

We’re working on a project with think tank Green Alliance to show how new markets could help to support farming methods that reduce flooding, provide clean water and restore wildlife, for the benefit of all.

The government is working on its replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy. Its proposed environmental land management system would provide farmers with an income for managing land to deliver healthier soils, cleaner water, more wildlife, and better access for people to the countryside.

We and our partners at Green Alliance are proposing three ways that the new system can also unlock private investment in environmentally friendly farming.

How would this work?

Flooding and water pollution are estimated to cost at least £2.4 billion a year to businesses, infrastructure operators and government agencies in England. Diverting even a small proportion of this money to land management changes on farmland that reduce flood risk and pollution would represent a significant addition to funding for environmental restoration.

New Natural Capital Delivery Companies could see groups of farmers working together with downstream businesses to deliver flood protection and clean water.

Taking such a cooperative approach means farmers would share the risks involved in long term sustainable land management with other businesses.

What do we need to make this work?

Businesses, farmers and conservation organisations can all help make these ideas take off, but the UK Government and devolved governments can also play a role by:

  • Providing match funding for private investments in natural capital under the new environment land management system
  • Introducing formal accreditation for brokers with the authority to facilitate funding and verify compliance.

What are the next steps?

We’re working with Green Alliance, alongside leading landowners and businesses, to develop and test this concept and will continue to share our learnings.