Food, Land and Sea

Total number of submissions = 185

Number of submissions from:

  • Academic = 3
  • Advocacy group = 4
  • Businesses (including a film company) = 12
  • Community Organisations = 2
  • Charities = 5
  • Parish/Town Councils = 2
  • Political party =1
  • Individuals = 156

The submissions can be summarised as:

Develop a Land-Use and Marine Framework

This would be a cross organisational strategy and working plan for Devon which considers, and reconciles, requirements for development, food, energy, wildlife, recreation and carbon capture across land and marine environments.

It would integrate with Catchment Management Plans and the existing work on a Devon Nature Recovery Network and the existing processes for the planning of spatial development (e.g. Local Plans) and infrastructure (e.g. Local Transport Plans).

Land elements

  • Work towards tree cover in Devon of 17-19% (the Woodland Trust).
  • Identify areas which could be suitable for rewilding.
  • Promote and give guidance on agroforestry, the planting of trees within agricultural land, e.g. silvopasture (trees in grazed land), fruit trees and commercial nut trees, to increase carbon sequestration in crop systems.
  • Identify poorer quality grazing pasture to be transitioned into forestry for timber and short rotation coppice for biofuel and biochar production, keeping the most productive land as pasture.
  • Promote the growth of hemp, flax and linseed for building materials and clothing fibre.
  • Identify areas of degraded peatlands on Dartmoor and Exmoor and coordinate restoration to maximise carbon sequestration.
  • Protect and enhance Devon’s Culm grasslands, a type of purple moor-grass and rush pasture peculiar to north Devon.
  • Consider the role of natural burial sites for carbon sequestration.

Marine elements

  • Establish and maintain an up to date inventory of blue carbon stocks, such as seagrass meadows, kelp forests (macroalgae), salt marshes, maerl beds and coastal sand dunes, so that the Framework is informed by evidence.
  • Identify potential enhancement opportunities and cross organisational management plans for the protection and restoration of Devon’s blue carbon, which would include:
    • Deter land use practices that elevate the concentrations of sediments, nutrients and pollutants in runoff entering coastal zones.
    • Regulate activities that lead to habitat fragmentation(e.g. dredging, boat anchoring) or to the extinction of top-predators (i.e. Overfishing) to maintain sequestration.
    • Restrict development bordering saltmarshes and identify opportunities to allow the breach of coastal defences, so that salt marshes can migrate inland to increase this carbon sink.
    • Protect coastal sand dunes.
    • Educate the public through campaigns around activities harmful to seagrass, saltmarshes, sand dunes and kelp forests.
    • Support the development of macroalgal aquaculture, kelp farming, in Devon through grants and research exchange, as a form of carbon sequestration.
    • Restrict the harvest of existing kelp, and co-located biota to sustainable levels and establish marine protected areas where necessary.
    • Tackle fishing related plastics.

Mechanisms to deliver the Land-Use and Marine Framework

  • Pay farmers through grants and Environmental Land Management Scheme subsidies to reforest/ re-wild parts of their land and maintain existing woodland. Pay farmers to maintain and restore biodiversity rich meadows.
  • Reduce flailing to allow trees in hedgerows to grow, for example through alternate year hedge cutting, except for road and track sides.
  • Encourage the relaying of hedges through grants and subsidies, collaborating with Devon Hedge Group.
  • Supporting appropriate growth of tree production and Devon tree nurseries.
  • Set up local carbon markets to incentivise landowners coastal habitat managers to deliver increased carbon storage, underpinned by sound measuring and reporting standards.
  • Ensure there is adequate access to guidance on replacing ash trees from ash dieback.
  • Ensure woodlands are well managed by supporting woodland practitioners’ knowledge-sharing of best-practice and access to training and support.
  • Involve communities.
  • Public Health authorities to lead an awareness and education campaign to promote the nutritional benefits of low-carbon food options. This could include:
    • Enhancing cooking and food growing skills.
    • Encourage people to eat better quality animal proteins, in quantities in line with Public Health recommendations on proteins.
    • Employers and food outlets to be encouraged to offer more plant-based options to staff and customers. Environmental Health teams in local authorities to support engagement with food outlets.
    • Employers encouraged to support a work culture where people have time to grow and cook food and consider workplace allotments.
  • Lab grown meat: invest in lab grown meat research and educate the public on the benefits of it, as well as the acceptability of wild meat such as deer, rabbit and squirrel.
  • Local Authorities to increase convenient easy access to local food, including local food retail and community cafes/hubs, supported through policy in Local plans.
  • Local authorities to support the development of markets for local food produce crops, and of co-ops or other intermediaries giving support with processing and marketing.
  • Local Authorities to encourage the production of food in urban areas to support access for all to sustainable food, by:
    • Specify edible plants in public spaces and edible trails in towns in partnership with community groups.
    • The provision of space for community gardens and community composting as education and local production spaces.
    • Use powers under Section 23 of the 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act, and provision through planning policy, to increase provision and reduce waiting lists for allotments.
    • Encourage living walls and rooves in developments to enhance carbon sequestration opportunities in urban areas.
    • Support the better use of urban spaces to provide food, through the establishment of glasshouses and vertical farming techniques, including hydroponic or aeroponic systems in unused urban areas, an example of which is being trialled under the Plymouth Fab City initiative.
    • Encourage new entrants to farming and small scale food growing, including micro farms and community farms, potentially through the tenancy agreements of county farms and large estates.
    • Maintain, and if possible increase the number of county farms and support them as models of good husbandry and environmental good practice
    • Need for one planet planning regulations which allow low impact dwellings in open country on land used for food growing, and with lower minimum income threshold. May need to allow low impact accommodation for temporary farm labour also (eg WWOOFers) which greatly enhance productive capacity and enable new entrants training and practical experience .
  • Develop a Devon regional quality mark marketing farm produce produced under sustainable practice, to attract a price premium and economic benefit.
  • Local authorities to promote the switching of refrigeration systems to use zero GHG gases such as ammonia and enforce the maintenance of refrigeration systems to ensure minimal leakage of GHGs.
  • Reduce plastic food packaging to reduce incineration emissions.
  • Reduce food waste along the supply chain, engaging with the commercial sector.
  • Ensure both domestic and commercial food waste is properly separated and goes to anaerobic digestion.
  • Support systems to improve stock control in shops and public understanding of use by and best before dates, including through engagement with supermarkets.

Leadership

  • Local authorities in Devon to act as community leaders, working with the National Farmers Union, FWAG and farmers to support the required shift in practices, including:
    • Require five-year plans for all land managers of county farms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including nutrient management plans and opportunities to reduce the use of heavy machinery on and off farm (transportation of product).
    • Encourage other land managers to do so, in collaboration with the National Farmers Union.
    • Identify the potential for making or sourcing low carbon fertiliser in Devon, using the existing Haber Bosch process powered by renewable energy at times when a surplus of energy is available and reduce reliance on mineral fertilisers through integrated nutrient management and the use of organic fertility building approaches.
    • Enhance permission for low impact communities working on land to live on land with low impact dwellings through the development of a low impact living planning policy.
    • Engage in local Environmental Land Management Scheme test and trials to influence outcomes of subsidies.

Livestock Farming

  • The Devon Climate Emergency to communicate constructively with the farming community to avoid their alienation by negative press around livestock farming.
  • Encourage grass-fed animal husbandry on permanent pasture to support carbon sequestration, in combination with the cessation of animal feed imports which contribute to deforestation.
  • Work with the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) to encourage farmers to access existing demand for grass-fed meat and dairy.
  • Encourage the reestablishment of hay meadows as a source of winter feed.
  • Support farmers in choosing genetically appropriate livestock to rear and in maintaining animal health to minimise livestock emissions.
  • Improve the management of manures and waste to tackle Methane and Nitrogen Oxide emissions.
  • Increase funding for research collaborations with South West farmers to support the development of practical solutions to optimise sustainability of livestock.
  • Support livestock farmers to diversify or to exit the sector.
  • Re-localise slaughter houses and alter regulations to allow on farm slaughter for commercially available meat.

Soil Carbon

  • Increase soil carbon through a coordinated strategy that would:
    • Encouraging the application of organic soil amendments, including biochar.
    • Soils with existing high carbon should be protected, through no or minimum tillage and no additional land drainage to prevent release of previously stored carbon.
    • Upland peat soils, which have high carbon storage capacity should be protected and restored -see Land Use Framework.
    • Support the establishment of better data on the potential of different agricultural practices to sequester carbon e.g. mob grazing, deep rooting grasses, including monitoring soil at depth > 30 cm.
    • Ensure farms have the skills and appropriate equipment to simply but accurately measure soil carbon.
    • Support for agroecology methods, afforestation and rewilding; support should include land used for environmental enhancement such as sequestration at the same time as food growing or energy generation.
    • Alteration of Dartmoor Charter to allow clumps of trees at less than one mile proximity.

Farmer support services

  • Invest in farmer support services, including knowledge exchange and networks to share equipment to enable diversification or change in farming practice-bridging the gap between research, funding streams, local groups and farmers and supporting farmers to make a viable living through regenerative farming practices.
  • Facilitate access to unbiased, trusted, in person advice (see above)

Public Engagement

  • Launch competitions to reward parish councils and residents for actions -e.g. garden competitions, biodiversity projects.

New agricultural subsidies

  • Align agricultural subsidies to support regenerative agriculture, including mixed rotation farming and reduced chemical inputs.
  • Payment for farmers to have woodlands and to convert land to woodlands.
  • Payment for hay meadows.
  • Develop mechanisms for land managers to be paid accurately for the carbon they store.
  • Subsidies and grants to incentivise farmers to change practices and diversify.
  • Ensure subsidies recognise tree planting densities between woodland and arable to remove subsidy barriers to the growth in agroforestry.
  • Subsidies must also support smallholders.

National legislation

  • Use import legislation to favour UK grown produce.
  • Increase taxes on Agri-chemicals to account for their carbon intensity and deter their use.
  • Effective laws that control food packaging.
  • Remove barriers to feeding food waste to pigs.
  • Support the amendment currently being tabled to the agricultural bill to define grass-fed livestock as 100% grass-fed and not 51%.
  • Realign VAT on food stuff to deter high carbon polluting foodstuff.
  • Promote the consideration of seagrass meadows within national GHG accounting schemes and reduction targets.
  • Change legislation to allow mobile slaughterhouses.
  • Enhance food labelling and accreditation to give consumers clearer information on carbon intensity of foods, including on meat and dairy.
  • Shift the onus from organic farmers having to label to distinguish their products to non-organic farmers.
  • The cessation of animal feed imports.

For Local Authorities and EA

  • Enforce breaches of environmental legislation with corresponding resourcing.
  • Local authorities to create awareness around public space management for biodiversity to change people’s perceptions and expectations and to allow for a reduction in pesticides and mowing where safe.
  • Discourage the loss of front gardens through planning.
  • Enhance the protection for trees through the issuing and enforcement of preservation orders, to prevent the loss of existing mature trees, except for the necessary response to Ash Dieback disease.
  • Planning authorities to require increased on-street tree planting in new housing developments and explore the potential of requiring property developments to provide land for rewilding through section 106.
  • Fund local trees through council tax surcharge.
  • Revise Local Plans to incorporate Land Use Framework and One Planet Living policies.