The proposed environmental impact assessment regulations are designed to
bring Britain into line with new European standards.

According to Defra they will make life easier for farmers by cutting red
tape and simplifying existing rules which protect uncultivated and
semi-natural land from damage from agricultural grounds works and farming

They would also bring in new EIA rules to operations aiming to restructure
land holdings.

This would include projects such stripping out hedgerows, ditches and walls,
filling or digging lakes and major land flattening works.

The new rules will apply when such work is likely to have significant
effects on the environment.

Anyone wishing to do such work will have to apply to the new Natural England
super-agency to see whether
environmental impact assessment is required.

If it is required, the assessment will then decide whether the work should
be allowed to proceed.

Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight said: “We need
to get this right, and the views of stakeholders and the wider public will
be vital to achieving that.

“The new rules need to strike a balance between giving targeted protection
to our landscape and biodiversity, and giving farmers the flexibility to go
about the business of sustainable agriculture.

“These new regulations need to complement recent changes to farm subsidies and the launch of Environmental Stewardship.

“Taken together, these changes promise to transform the rural environment over the years and decades ahead.”

Further information on the consultation can be found on Defra’s website.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 14 November 2005.

By Sam Bond

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