SKIPTON MP Julian Smith visited the National Trust’s Howith Farm at Eldroth, near Settle, to learn about its work with land management.

Mr Smith, recently made Northern Ireland Secretary, was shown around by tenant farmer, Neil Cowperthwaite, and heard from National Trust ecologists Frances Graham and Elizabeth Sullivan and others from the team about the pioneering work being undertaken at the farm.

He said: “I was so interested to hear about the work being undertaken by the National Trust in the Dales, which will help shape our country’s agricultural policy for years to come.

“As farming is such an important part of life in this area it is key that the farming community feel fully confident that they can capitalise on the great opportunities ahead.”

The National Trust-funded Payment for Outcomes trial involves the National Trust working with its tenant farmers to test and demonstrate an outcomes-based approach to land management.

Howith Farm, one of five farms in the Dales taking part, has chosen to enter 15 meadows and pastures into the National Trust’s pilot scheme, particularly measuring soil health, pollinator health and natural flood management.

It is planned that the project will be developed, in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) into a trial for the Government’s new Environmental Land Management scheme.

The new system, based on the principles of paying public money for public goods such as environmental outcomes, is currently under development by DEFRA to replace the EU’s Basic Payment System.

The Government says the Environment Bill will put environmental ambition and accountability at the very heart of government, and the Environmental Land Management scheme will be the cornerstone of its policy.