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Royalty, Big Business and Catchment Management: Stepping Up A Gear

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Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) received the royal seal of approval from The Prince of Wales with water and food and supply chain companies at the Catchment Management Summit at Moreton on Marsh on the 29th of May.

The event organised by Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership (CISL) and attended by its patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, together with Thames Water, Anglian Water and Yorkshire Water, celebrated and promoted awareness of the new Catchment management declaration - signed by over 50 organisations including food retailers and companies:  Asda; Sainsbury and Nestle.

The summit showcased the very best examples of what is currently being achieved in Catchment Management including a short field visit to look at the Thames Water / Natural England Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership.

HRH Prince Charles with Sarah Olney, Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer

Our CSFO, Sarah Olney, explained to delegates how waterquality improvements had been made by supporting the host tenant farmer to address a Phosphate Water Quality issue; helping both the sustainability of the farmer's beef enterprise and also reducing the impact on water quality.

Other aspects of CSF work were also covered, including enhancing soil health through the use of direct drill technologies on large scale arable farm operations.

Sarah said "It was a pleasure to meet The Prince of Wales and see so many business sector leaders showing an active interest in Catchment Sensitive Farming.  We were able to highlight the importance of rigorous scientific monitoring through evaluating the effectiveness of the measures the farmer had put in place as well as assess the Natural Capital value of the interventions; which are being carried out by the consultancy Atkins.  I focused on helping the farmer get the very best advice and the right incentives to achieve long term solutions for the farm and the environment."

The host farmer Simon Righton commented "I really value Sarah's approach. It means I have someone who is on my side, who understands both the farm business pressures and the environmental solutions available."

HRH Prince Charles speaking to Simon Righton, the host farmer

The Summit also featured a best practice marketplace.  This included the Landscape Enterprise Networks approach which Nestle and Business In The Community are championing with input from Natural England.

Speakers included Defra Minister, Lord Gardiner and Mike Barry, Director of Sustainability for M&S and covered key Catchment Sensitive Farming topics including:

  • The importance of enabling community action at a local-scale
  • Work to help farmers adjust their land management practices in ways that address both catchment health and profitable farming
  • The need to address soil health and its vital link to catchment health

Working together, CSF and our area teams will be able to utilise the momentum of interest the Declaration has achieved from the private sector.  Moving forward, we will continue to work with CISL and other partners to meet our pledges and apply the catchment management approach.

In particular we will use the Declaration as a spring board for more, better placed investment by water companies, the food and drink sector, farm supply companies and the wider private sector in the natural environment through a catchment based approach.

For more information contact David Burton, Senior Adviser, Catchment Sensitive Farming, Business Development.

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