Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart attended a meeting with farmers from the Milburn and Dufton areas to discuss the challenges with commons payments.
The farmers raised concerns that Natural England has been claiming Owner’s Surplus under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) since 2015, despite formerly promising not to do so. Following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in 2001, Natural England bought many of the rights of common relating to Milburn and Dufton commons and promised not to claim Owner’s Surplus. The farmers argued they had suffered a considerable loss of BPS revenue because of Natural England’s claim.
Rory was very concerned about the farmers’ potential loss of trust in Natural England, with which many of them have had an outstanding relationship for several years. Immediately after the meeting, he wrote to Natural England, which has agreed to meet with representatives from the Commons Association.
After the meeting in August Rory said: “It is vital that our farmers are given the chance to be heard. I am delighted Natural England is meeting with the farmers and they are working together to come to a swift solution. It shows that by working together and supporting each other, obstacles can be overcome.”