Author Archives: Stephen Lees

ELMS Update

..Species rich grassland at Sissinghurst: a good carbon sink (Matt Jackson)

There is much speculation regarding how the forthcoming Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) will benefit farmers as EU basic farm payments are withdrawn.  Many farmers see ELMS as being a simple extension of the existing Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS) but politicians are asking why should the Government give £3 billion each year to Agriculture in the first place?  Surely farmers need to justify and prove this level of benefit to society. Continue reading

Restoring Drake’s Island

The mystery of Drakes Island has captivated many of us in recent decades, as it sits silent, isolated and locked away to all.  At the heart of Plymouth Sound, it is a key feature within the landscape, and seen from the Rame Peninsula in Cornwall, much of Plymouth and around to Wembury Point; it can even be seen from Dartmoor.

In 1135 it was referred to as St. Michaels after the chapel that stood upon it, rededicated to become St. Nicolas’ at some time after.  The Island kept this name until the early 20th century, when it adopted the name of Sir Francis Drake.  He had been made governor of the island in 1583, not long after its first fortifications in 1549, and it is from then that the island started a long and unbroken military history.

..1725 map of the island

Drake’s Island is a scheduled monument and considered of high heritage significance Continue reading

Marvellous Mud Snails

 

. Crowdy Reservoir ( copyright SWLT)

In this job we are always learning, and a slight change from the normal this week was undertaking some temporary pond creation at Crowdy Reservoir for South West Lakes Trust.  The work was part of Buglife’s Marvellous Mud Snails project.  And yes Mud Snails were new to me as well, though they did bring to mind Desmoulin’s Snail, which was briefly a cause celebre when they held up major works to upgrade the Newbury by-pass back in the 1980s.  Continue reading

Farm Diversification

Whitegate Farm Shop © Copyright Richard Law

Many of our clients at Land and Heritage are farmers and landowners dealing with the myriad of day to day issues involved with managing their land.  For many years we have helped farmers with agri-environment schemes and then more recently with all of the planning requirements of farm diversification and development in rural areas.   We have previously discussed the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), Continue reading

Climate Change, Biodiversity Gain and Tree Planting

Rewilding on the Knepp Estate, West Sussex

Climate change is rarely out of the news these days, and tree planting is one of the solutions put forward to take carbon out of the atmosphere.  It can certainly work in the short term; a good conifer plantation grows at over 20 cubic metres per hectare per annum, which is awful lot of carbon.  Native species such as oak are slower growing, usually less than 10 cubic metres per hectare per annum.

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What might ELMS look like?

Arable field margin copyright Simon Mortimer https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5700732

I have been asked to write a blog about the new farm support grant, the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).  This is due to replace the current Basic Farm Payment Scheme, aims to incentivise farmers to achieve environmental enhancement and protection and restore and improve natural capital and rural heritage.

Trial for ELMS schemes have just started and will run until 2022.  Pilots will then run until 2024 with the scheme currently planned to roll out from 2025.  Given the current political uncertainty, and the lack of information being put forward by Defra, there is not a lot one can definitely say on the subject.  Six years seems a very long lead in period for a scheme which was first muted back in 2015.  I think however that it is well worth considering some of the consequences that this long gestation might have.

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What is Landscape Architecture?

I am the newest member of the team at Land and Heritage Ltd.  When I was asked to write an article for our regular blog spot, I was a bit stumped – I’ve not been here that long, and having relocated to Cornwall from the East Midlands, I am still finding my feet in the South-West.  So I’ve gone back to basics – my remit for the business is to expand the services offered to include Landscape Architecture, so for the benefit of past, present and future clients I will pose the simple question:  Continue reading

Conserving Castle Landscapes

Castell Powys, or Powis Castle as the English know it, is a wonderful, striking medieval fortress and country mansion, sitting high on a hill overlooking the River Severn.  Once know as the ‘Red Castle’, it is internationally recognised for its high red terraces and battlements, which are clothed in enormous and ancient clipped yew topiary.  Continue reading

Biodiversity Net Gain

Wildflower meadow on Cornwall housing site

Over the past few years we have seen a number of milestone reports leading to shifts in Government policy which aim to halt the decline of biodiversity across the UK.  The first inkling of change was the Lawton report “Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network” published  by Defra in 2010 which identified that the existing system of protected sites and reserves was inadequate and insufficient to halt the rapid decline in UK wildlife.  Some of the recommendations of this report passed into policy In 2011 within the Government  White Paper “The Natural Choice  – securing the value of nature”.  Last year saw the publication of the 25-year Environment Plan which makes it clear that all future industrial, residential and infrastructure development is dependent on improving conditions for wildlife. Continue reading