MP raises payment delays with minister

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Michael Gove.
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Michael Gove.

MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has met Environment Secretary Michael Gove to raise concerns of local farmers over delays to their Countryside Stewardship payments.

The Countryside Stewardship scheme provides financial incentives for farmers and land managers to look after their environment by conserving and restoring wildlife habitats, woodland creation, improving educational access and reducing water pollution.

The scheme is now being administered by the Rural Payments Agency, which handles other grants to farmers. Unfortunately, a number of local farmers have experienced delays to their payments and have struggled to get answers from the RPA.

She sought a meeting with the Secretary of State to raise the issue with him directly, as well as concerns over those farmers who have land which crosses the border with Scotland.

Speaking after the meeting, she said: “I was pleased to be able to explain the issue to the Secretary of State and describe the specific challenges faced by cross-border farms.

“He pledged to go away and look at ways to improve how those farms are treated. He was as concerned as I was to hear about the delays in Countryside Stewardship payments.

“Things have improved since the initial transfer to the RPA, but I have a number of farmers yet to receive payments. He took away details of the individual cases to look into. Being able to raise these issues directly with the Secretary of State is an incredibly useful tool, and I will continue to bang the drum until these issues are resolved. It may only be a handful of cases nationwide, but those are real people struggling and I will always fight for them.

“My dedicated local team will continue to keep everyone updated with our progress. Anyone else facing similar delays should get in touch with my office.”