Estimating the Scale of Future Environmental Land Management Requirements for the UK
ADAS and SAC, 2009
- Estimation of budgetary needs involved in meeting environmental and landscaping objectives in the UK
- The study derives the number of required units to be covered by agri-environmental schemes (e.g. hectares of grassland and woodland, or lengths of field margins and stone walls) from policy target indicators, and takes into account overlaps where one area is subject to similar or incompatible agri-environmental schemes. The cost per agri-environmental scheme per unit is assumed to be somewhere close to the middle of current cost ranges.
- Total costs for the UK would amount to £2 billion.
- Costs per hectare run between £56 (Scotland) and £96 (England).
- The highest cost by far (£1 billion) is for biodiversity protection.
- Cost estimates are still very unreliable and little work has been undertaken so far in this direction.
- Member states will have to co-finance a share of the costs. Based on the estimates of this study and assuming a co-financing rate of 50%, EU payments of about EUR 50 per hectare would be sufficient in the UK.
- Some of the policy objectives (especially those related to landscaping, historic sites and public access to land) covered in the study arguably fall within national responsibilities, and others may be better achieved through regulation or taxes than through subsidies. Justifiable EU payments for land management may thus be even lower than estimated in the study. But one may add some funds for training and advisory services on sustainable farming, and possibly be more ambitious on climate change.
- Overall, the results of this study indicate a significant potential for EU-wide subsidy reductions, considering that the EU currently spends roughly EUR 300 per hectare on average (dividing EUR 55 billion by 173 million ha; however, some of the money is used for non-agricultural land or for programs unrelated to land use).
- It is amazing that the EU has not yet undertaken a serious, EU-wide estimate of costs for different CAP policy options ahead of the negotiations for a new long-term budget. Whoever wants to claim more than EUR 50 per hectare will have to deliver a detailed, well-argued cost estimate.