Environmental aspects of set-aisde: a study in Northern Hampshire

Lind, Margo (1996) Environmental aspects of set-aisde: a study in Northern Hampshire. (MPhil thesis), Kingston University, .


Amongst recent changes to the Common Agricultural Policy have been the introduction of set-aside schemes, tentatively in 1988 and more forcibly in 1992. Such schemes remove land from agricultural production for a fixed period of time whilst ensuring the land is maintained to a standard suitable for any future return to cropping. The main purpose of set-aside in the EC is to reduce the over-production of certain food crops including cereals. The subsidiary aim of using set-aside to improve the environmental quality of farmland has gained in importance since the early 1990s as environmental issues have become increasingly highlighted. The primary aim of this research was to determine whether set-aside was promoting environmental improvements within the farmland. This was related to the possible advantages set-aside could give the wider countryside, in the light of the limited extent and impact of targeted environmental schemes. The study focused upon a sample of farm holdings in Northern Hampshire. Questionnaires and interviews were used to study farmers' opinions and the management of set-aside. Few farmers felt that set-aside had improved the environment. This was particularly true of those with rotational set-aside. However, some benefits were described, mainly relating to increases in bird species. The majority of these were unplanned and developed purely by chance. Other aspects, such as set-aside clearing crop-land of weeds, were generally a consequence of the growers adapting the scheme to meet their own farming requirements. Many farmers expressed an interest in conservation issues and were keen to see the incorporation of more environmental benefits, such as conservation headlands, within the set-aside regulations. Despite their interest, few had entered agri-environmental schemes or utilised conservation grants. This was largely because the compensation rates were not sufficiently attractive or the schemes were unsuitable for the farm. The farmers in this study appeared relatively knowledgeable about conservation, but were less clear as to how to adopt this within their overall farm management plans. Set-aside has the potential to contribute towards the improvement of the countryside's wildlife resource, but much more needs to be done to promote this. Furthermore, it is important that the attitudes of the farmers, and those framing policy, are altered so any positive environmental benefits, made as a consequence of set-aside or agri-environmental schemes, will be sustained once these schemes come to a close.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page