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Craven couple mark milestone for environmental farming

[Tuesday 25 April 2006]

A HUSBAND and wife farming team from Craven have helped mark an important milestone for a Government initiative aimed at protecting the countryside.

The Harrison family plant new trees on their Craven farm
The Harrison family plant new trees on their Craven farm

Defra's Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS) was launched in 2005 and rewards farmers for playing their part in caring for the countryside in ways that deliver significant environmental benefits.

Tracy and Matthew Harrison of Storeys House Farm at Elslack in North Yorkshire have the first HLS scheme to go live in the Craven area.

The Harrisons are second-generation tenants on the holding - part of the Elslack Estate that has panoramic views up to the Yorkshire Dales - and keep 25 beef cattle and 200 sheep on the 116 acres.

Mr Harrison said: "It's very exciting to be amongst the first higher level agreement holders in Yorkshire. We have three children - Ben, Rachel and Tom - and we take our role as stewards of the countryside seriously.

"Our family has been farming this land for two generations and we want to be able to pass it on to the third generation in good shape."

By entering the HLS agreement the couple will receive an annual payment, with a further £15,000 allocated for environmental and maintenance projects on the farm.

Projects to be carried out by the Harrisons under their Environmental Stewardship agreement

  • Restoration of traditional meadowland

  • Conservation of areas of native woodland and new planting of oak, ash, rowan, holly, cherry and hawthorn

  • Protection of two ancient cairns

  • Hedgerow restoration

  • Rebuilding nearly 700 meters of dry stone walling

  • Creation of a large area attractive to ground nesting birds such as lapwing, curlew and snipe, by removing a fence and managing stock numbers in the field.

Tracy completed the Farm Environment Plan herself and work is already underway to replant woodland and restore stretches of dry stone walling.

The couple plan to rebuild 700m of drystone wall
The couple plan to rebuild 700m of drystone wall

Matthew continued: "HLS makes sense - it's good for the environment, extra income for the farm and it maintains the countryside for present and future generations to enjoy."

Martin O'Hanlon, an adviser for the Rural Development Service, said: "This agreement is a good example of what HLS can achieve - and hopefully the Harrisons' success will encourage other farmers in the area to consider an application.

"The Harrisons have a fairly small holding that is outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Mrs Harrison put the Farm Environment Plan together herself, and this work attracts an extra payment from Defra on top of the grant money.

"We would encourage all farmers and landowners to look at their own farms and consider how our schemes can help deliver similar benefits for them.

"We're delighted with the application and wish the Harrisons every success in implementing the measures on their farm."

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