General Election 2017: What the Ludlow candidates said about – farming

Should farming continue to receive government funding? That was the question asked by a Radio Shropshire listener during Wednesday’s live husting. You can hear the debate online.

Labour’s Julia Buckley emphasised diversification and encouraging small farmers. Philip Dunne for the Conservatives said support would continue until 2022. Liberal Democrat Heather Kidd emphasised support for small and upland farms, and protection of the countryside. Green Hilary Wendt said farmers should be paid to protect the landscape and biodiversity, and help combat climate change.

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Shocking news that agricultural suicides remain high

Data published on Friday by the Office of National Statistics show that male agricultural workers have a suicide rate second only to low-skilled labourers. More than 60 men farming in England take their own lives every year.

Richard Huffer farms in South Shropshire and is Shropshire Councillor for the ward of Clee.

“To learn that agriculture has one of the highest suicide rates in England will come as no surprise for anyone in the farming community. We have all lost friends and colleagues in shocking circumstances.

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Farming, countryside protection and affordable housing up for debate at Bitterley meeting on 16 June

Farming, countryside protection and affordable housing will top the agenda at the next meeting of the Ludlow and Clee Local Joint Committee on 16 June.

Committee chair Councillor Andy Boddington says:

“We are lucky live amid the glorious countryside of South Shropshire. People come here to visit and to retire because the Ludlow area has great beauty, great people and superb places to eat and drink.

“We should never forget that this is a working landscape. We grow food on our beautiful fields. The countryside is full of small enterprises. Yet it increasingly hard for many people to find somewhere to live in rural areas, particularly if they are young and on a low income.

“At the meeting on 16 June, we’ll be debating the future of farming, the problems of affordable housing and the future of the Shropshire Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.

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Major grain store proposed for Kings Head Farm in Bromfield village

Plymouth Estates has submitted a planning application for a 4,100 tonne dry grain store (16/01438/FUL). A grain intake and grain drier will be incorporated within the building. Six grain silos are planned on the south side.

This is a big complex. It stands off the A4113 at the west edge of Bromfield village.

I haven’t yet taken a view on this application as a whole. I think we need to facilitate local farming businesses when we can. But I will wait to hear local views before making a formal comment. I am not convinced by the colour scheme proposed for the building.

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South Planning Committee throws out controversial Wenlock Edge cabins and a solar farm, approves disabled riding

Yesterday was another lively day at the South Planning Committee. Planning committees are always controversial these days. That’s because most decisions are taken by officers and the three planning committees (North, Central and South) only get to see the most complex and controversial applications.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised that we unanimously voted against a cluster of wooden holiday chalets at the Wenlock Edge Inn (14/02184/FUL). They were on the wrong side of the road from the Inn, were in the wrong style and would have damaged views in a sensitive area of the AONB. We had strong and consistent grounds for rejected the plans under the National Planning Policy Framework, Shropshire Core Strategy and the Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Plan.

The huge solar farm at Sheriffhales was much more difficult (14/03444/FUL). I was impressed by the community support for the scheme, the biodiversity plans and the development of a bond to pay for decommissioning. That swung me in favour of an installation I would normally prefer to be on factory roofs. But there were very strong objections to the scheme taking up good quality (best and most versatile) land. The plans were rejected by a single vote. Continue reading “South Planning Committee throws out controversial Wenlock Edge cabins and a solar farm, approves disabled riding”