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Agricultural Land 'Must Be Protected'

Photo by Freddie Ramm from Pexels

The Pollinator Project says we must ensure fields being absorbed into gardens do not become green deserts.

The Development and Planning Authority has received high numbers of Change of Use applications from people wanting to bring agricultural land into their domestic curtilage.

Since 1 September all such applications must be accompanied by information demonstrating environmental benefits in respect of biodiversity.

Gordon Steele from the Pollinator Project says this is a positive move to help protect local biodiversity and the charity would be willing to advise:

"What we would really like to see is the guidance on biodiversity enhancement and we'd be very keen to work with them to establish exactly what that was, and for how long it happens. Because in the past we have seen landowners take an area into domestic curtilage establish a biodiverse area but then a year later it's just been mowed over and it has become a lawn.

"If someone is taking one of these fields and genuinely wants to enhance biodiversity establishing a meadow or keeping rough grasses for slow worms and voles, it can be very positive. But, if on the other hand someone is taking a field and they're just going to mow it and it's just going to be a green desert then that does nothing for our biodiversity at all."

Commenting on the introduction of the new requirement Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the Development and Planning Authority, said:

“The Committee was concerned about the amount of land being changed with no real benefit and in some cases negatively impacting the environment. This is another important step by the D&PA in implementing the Strategy for Nature and protecting the Guernsey we love, whilst helping to ensure that our Island’s biodiversity is enhanced through the land use planning process.”

Mr Steele says we must consider the role of local farmers:

"A lot of the land that they farm is rented and so there is little incentive for farmers to make improvements. We need to recognise what farmers do for us, helping to maintain our landscape and protecting biodiversity by going organic, so we need to careful when we see land moving away from agriculture, that we consider the farmer and their needs too."

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