LFA winners and losers in the UK

WITHOUT further fine tuning of the European Parliament’s reclassification of Less Favoured Areas (LFA) there are bound to be ‘winners and losers’ across the UK, an MEP has warned.

Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland George Lyon said the inclusion of Excess Soil Moisture as one of the eight new criteria for reclassifying areas in Europe which qualify as LFA, has helped iron out some of the anomalies discovered when the first maps of Scotland were drawn up.

“The new criteria has ensured many farms, which risked losing out because no account was taken of the length of time their fields were waterlogged due to our high rainfall, will now be included.

“However, there is still a problem as about 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres)of good farm land predominantly in the east coast of Scotland could now potentially be brought in to the LFA areas. Further fine tuning will be needed to ensure that it is reduced to a figure close to the current LFA areas.

“In Wales and Northern Ireland the problem is the exact opposite where approximately 300,000 hectares (741,316 acres) of current LFA farmland risk losing out under the new criteria, and in England there is also a possible significant loss of current LFA farmland but they also have problems with a substantial increase of good land also qualifying.

Mr Lyon also criticised the ‘secrecy’ surround LFA maps.

“At least in the UK we have a clear idea of how the new criteria impacts on UK farmers as the maps showing the changes have been published by UK and Scottish Governments on a regular basis.

“However, many other countries are keeping the impact of these changes a secret and they are refusing to release the information to the European Parliament.

“The countries concerned must come clean and reveal this information to us as soon as possible if the legislation is to make any progress through the Parliament.”

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