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Warwickshire Rural Hub

Recent Developments

Defra issues 3 new general licences to control pest bird species

Three new general licences for killing certain birds have been issued by Defra, extending the number of species that can be shot without having to apply for an individual licence.  These new licences extend the number of birds and range of circumstances under which lethal control is permitted without the need for an individual licences.

The new licences will allow users to control certain species of wild birds in order to:

  • conserve other wild birds, flora or fauna
  • preserve public health or public safety
  • prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables and fruit (GL36)

The bird species covered  by GL36 are carrion crow, jackdaw, magpie, feral pigeon, rook, woodpigeon, Canada goose, Egyptian goose, monk parakeet and ring-necked parakeet.

Kenilworth Show – competition results!

Thank you to everyone who visited the Rural Hub stand at the Kenilworth Show on 8 June and tried their hand at our competition.

We asked entrants to match 8 leaves and 8 small logs to some tree names.  Out of 51 entries 13 people got the correct answer, which is:

Tree Name                 Leaf Letter    Log Number

Ash                            E                    2
Cherry                       C                    5
Elder                          G                    7
Field Maple                H                   6
Hazel                         B                    1
Holly                           A                    8
Horse Chestnut           F                    3
Scots Pine                  D                   4

A bird box will be presented to the winner.

Thank you to Jon Slee for setting the competition and Tony Beysens for donating the bird box.

Information for farmers affected by HS2

Guides for farmers and growers on HS2 proposed approach to handling agricultural property matters have been published. They provide a single source of information for all those affected by the new route. There will eventually be a bespoke guide for each affected farmer.

The guides comprise 3 parts:

  • part 1 contains general policies and guidance on key issues, including land acquisition, land access, construction, land restoration and compensation.
  • in part 2, further explanatory notes on land acquisition and temporary occupation are included.
  • in part 3 is an example of the content that will be tailored to an individual farmer. The principles set out in the guide will be adhered to during the detailed design and construction of the railway.

You can access the information here.

Churchill Fellowships for Rural Living

The Churchill Fellowships are seeking applications to their Rural Living category that explore multidisciplinary approaches for strengthening rural communities, for example to invigorate transport networks, reimagine housing, employment and enterprise, or improve access to education, culture and healthcare.  This category is in partnership with The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

A Churchill Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand your horizons and make a difference. It offers up to two months overseas, researching a topic of your choice – and then a lifetime relationship to help you spread the global insights that you bring back.  Everyone can apply, regardless of age, background or qualifications, so long as you are a UK citizen aged 18 or over.  The Fellowships particularly welcome applicants who would not find funding elsewhere.  The closing date for applications is 17 September 2019.  You can find out full information on how to apply on this page.

Rural broadband enquiry launched

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has launched an enquiry into rural broadband and digital only services.  The committee is seeking responses to five questions:

  1. What are the barriers to delivering superfast broadband and improved mobile phone coverage in rural areas at an affordable cost?
  2. Is enough being done to address the disparity in coverage and digital service provision between rural and urban areas?
  3. Is the current Universal Service Obligation (USO) adequate for the needs of rural communities and businesses and will it be effectively delivered?
  4. Are the Government’s recent policy and funding announcements for improving digital connectivity adequate for rural areas?
  5. How well do digital public services work in rural areas where there are poor internet connections? What support or alternatives are available?

Responses must be received by 24 June.  Visit this page for further information.

Countryside Stewardship one to one advice sessions

If you are thinking of applying for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier this year you may be interested in attending a one to one advice session where the options available to you under a Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier scheme can be discussed and assistance offered with the application process, should you decide to apply.

Please call Jennifer Davies on 01785 710548 or email for more information and to book one of these free sessions in your local area (dates, locations and times to be confirmed). Please provide your name, address, contact number, email and farm CPH or SBI number when booking.

Just a reminder, if you have not yet ordered your pack you will need to order one from the RPA by the 31st May and the Mid Tier application window closes on 31st July.

Go wild in June with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

This June, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust challenge you to do something wild every day. That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting Random Acts of Wildness. They are giving out free packs of goodies to help you plan your wild month, plus lots of ideas from your Wildlife Trust to inspire you to stay wild all throughout June (and beyond). You’ll also get inspiring emails from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, invites to exclusive events and a chance to join in on social media using the #30DaysWild   To get your free 30 Days Wild pack in time for June (digitally via email or post), which includes a wallchart, a poster, an interactive booklet and some stickers to help you go wild, just sign up on the website

British Farming Awards are open for entries

The AgriBriefing 2019 British Farming Awards are now open for entries.   Now in its seventh year, the awards have become a nationally recognised event which celebrates, showcases and rewards farmers doing fantastic work across the country.  There are a total of 14 categories covering the core farming sectors as well as awards that recognise the talent of youngsters coming into the industry and acknowledge the contribution rural businesses are making to wider industries.   The closing date for entries is 12 July.   Further information on the awards is available here.

Irrigation prospects “Moderate” in West Midlands

The Environment Agency has revised its irrigation prospects following a dry April and the West Midlands is now defined as Moderate, which means that water levels are low, some controls on surface water abstraction are possible by midsummer if the weather is hot and dry and controls on abstraction from groundwater are possible in small, sensitive groundwater areas.

Weather conditions for the forthcoming growing season are difficult to predict but the Met Office says that hot and dry weather is (marginally) more likely than not this summer.  Farmers are urged to consider how they could be affected by running out of water and to make plans, where possible, to manage water shortages.

NFU launches its student and young farmer ambassador programme

The NFU is looking for 8-12 enthusiastic students or young farmers across England and Wales to represent the organisation and experience the best of what it has to offer.  The programme is a year-long series of events designed to give young people the opportunity to engage with the work of the NFU and to put their own stamp on the future of British farming.  The ambassadors have to be able to attend all events and must be members of the NFU – but students and young farmers can now join free of charge.  Applications to the programme close on 1 July.  Applicants must be aged between 18 – 26 years and have vested interest in agriculture and rural affairs.  All travelling expenses and overnight accommodation costs are covered by the programme.  For further information on the programme please visit this page.

New wayleave payments from 1 April

New advisory rates for occupiers under electric wayleave payments has been agreed for arable farmland (includes grass leys five years or less). Utility companies will have started making these payments from 1 April 2019. Further information is available on the Energy Network Association website.

Changes to general licences for bird control

Natural England is revoking three general licences for controlling certain wild birds as of Thursday 25 April 2019.  These licences cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons.  The new general licences will be available from 29 April 2019 and will cover the majority of circumstances previously covered by the revoked general licences and ensure landowners can continue to take necessary action, whilst also taking into account the needs of wildlife.

If you need to act within the law before the general licences are ready you can apply for an individual licence on the website.

The action is the first stage of a planned review of general and class licences, which will be completed this year.  For further information please visit the Defra website.

Do you grow maize under plastic?

SGS Banbury is looking for a grower who grows maize under plastic that they can use for an efficacy trial looking at weeds.  A pre-emergency spray would be required.  If you are interested in being paid to host this trial please contact Jo Hawke on 01295 671933

Farms sought for coppice wood and soil erosion trials

Researchers from Earthwatch and Small Woods Association are looking for farms in Warwickshire willing to establish field-scale trials that will be used to study how coppice wood products may prevent soil erosion. The trials will involve Earthwatch and collaborators installing short bundles of coppiced wood in affected fields. It is hoped these will trap eroding soils and provide added benefits such as improving soil fertility and soil biodiversity. The trial will last 1-2 years, according to site availability. If you would like to discuss this initiative please get in touch with Martha Crockatt or Alan Jones or tel: 01865 318838

Respond to planned tenancy reforms

Plans have been put forward by Defra for a radical shake-up of agricultural tenancy legislation in England and Wales, with a key aim of making it easier for people to enter and exit the industry.  Consultations have been launched and the deadline for responses is 2 July 2019.
The papers set out options that ministers hope will create opportunities for new entrants, who they say will bring new skills, ideas and innovation to the sector.  The proposals are broadly based on the work of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG), which made a series of recommendations to government back in 2017.

To respond to the Defra consultation please visit this page.


RPA bridging payments

RPA has confirmed that farmers will start receiving bridging payments from 12 April. These payments will cover BPS 2018 claims and CS 2018 advance payments.  Further information can be viewed here.

Storage and spreading of manures post Brexit

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, farmers may find themselves in a situation where they face added pressures on the storage and land-spreading of organic manures, digestate, waste and potentially waste milk.  The NFU has been informed by the Environment Agency (EA) that current regulations on the storage and land-spreading of these materials will remain in place as it currently stands unless further notice is given by Defra or the EA.

NFU launches new mobile app

The National Farmers’ Union has launched a dedicated app as an additional tool to help members stay up-to-date with the very latest NFU news, advice and information.  The app will enable members to access important NFU updates quickly and easily, with the ability to customise content by farming sector, access content without an internet connection and have the option of being notified when important news and information is uploaded.  For further information please visit this page.

Electronic Communications Code and landowners

The one-year-old Code has vastly changed the relationship between landowners and telecoms operators. With more power in the operators’ hands and rents appearing to plummet, landowners have understandably felt aggrieved. But after a long standoff, the two sides are reconnecting. So what are the key messages for landowners wanting the best deal from their telecoms lettings? Read this briefing note from our business supporter Shakespeare Martineau to find out.

Have you registered for Tax Digital?

The government’s new digital tax initiative due is due to be introduced on 1 April 2019, but according to a Freedom of Information request it appears that over 1 million businesses are still to register. This factsheet from Hub Business Supporter Ellacotts will give you further information on the new initiative and whether it applies to your business.

Big Farmland Bird Survey results

Results show that 1,400 farmers – a 40% increase on last year – recorded 140 species over 1 million acres in this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count. A total of 30 red-listed species were recorded, with 5 appearing in the most-commonly seen species list. These included fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, yellowhammers and song thrushes, with the first four seen by over 30% of the farms taking part. The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks.

The Big Farmland Bird Count is organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The full results can be viewed here.


Increases to National Minimum Wage on 1 April

On 1 April 2019 the National Minimum Wage will increase:

workers aged 21–24 — from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour
workers aged 18–20 — from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour
workers aged 16–18 — from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour
apprentice rate — from £3.70 to £3.90 per hour

The National Living Wage (NLW) rate for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour.

Please note that these increases are not optional and employers found to be in breach of the regulations will be subject to penalties and payments in arrears to affected employees.


BVDFree England Initiative “Stamp it out”

Vets who have signed up to the BVDFree England scheme “Stamp it out” have made a commitment to engage 8,000 farmers in active BVD control by 2020. 3,000 farmers have signed up so far and any farmer who is interested in joining the scheme is urged to contact their vet to see whether they are taking part in the initiative. Nearly £6m has been allocated by Defra to the farming industry to tackle this highly contagious cattle disease – it is estimated that 90% of herds in England have been exposed to the disease which costs the industry £61m per annum in lost performance. Under the “Stamp it out” scheme farmers can access funding to investigate the disease and for preliminary testing work.

How to prepare for Brexit and the possibility of a no-deal exit

The Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) has a dedicated web page to help farmers prepare for Brexit and the possibility of a no-deal exit. The page includes, amongst other information, a Brexit Impact Calculator, a resilience calculator and answers from experts to all of those questions you have been asking yourself. It’s a must-visit web-page for all farmers.

Mission 4 Milk

Mission 4 Milk is a new campaign by Hillsgreen committed to spreading the word about the health benefits of milk.   With the rise of plant-based alternatives, the reduction of free milk in schools, and the shift away from milk marketing, it is believed that the average shopper doesn’t know why they should drink milk. Dairy farmers are encouraged to get involved by taking part in the milk pint challenge, grabbing a selfie with milk or by sharing thoughts on all things dairy. If you would like to take part in the campaign please email

EA position on flexing of water abstraction in 2019

The Environment Agency has published a document setting out how it will approach the flexing of abstraction conditions in 2019 in order to respond to a dry spring or summer.  You can download the document below.  You will need Acrobat Adobe to read the pdf document.


Key dates for BPS, CS and ES

The Rural Payments Agency has put together a timeline of the important dates for 2019 to be aware of for Basic Payments Scheme, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship.   The dates and further information are available on the RPA website.  Alternatively you can download the calendar here.

Nuffield Farming Scholarships are open for applications

Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust has opened its doors for 2020 applications.  The closing date is 31 July 2019.

To date, 854 Scholars from the UK and over 1600 Scholars worldwide have been awarded Scholarships which have gone a long way in helping advance the food and farming sectors, as well as aiding personal development and career progression.  Each year, approximately 20 Scholarships are awarded, providing successful candidates with a bursary of approximately £7,000 toward the travel and research of a topic of interest in the farming, food, horticulture or rural industries.  For further information please visit this website.

Metaldehyde slug pellets to be banned from spring 2020

Defra Secretary the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP has confirmed that slug pellets containing Metaldehyde will be banned from spring 2020. It will be legal to sell Metaldehyde products for outdoor use for the next six months, with use of the products then allowed for a further 12 months. (Posted 19.12.18)

Download the Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2019

The new guide to Cross Compliance rules in England for 2019 can be downloaded here.

There are no confirmed policy changes to the rules for 2019.  However, please be aware that for SMR 1 Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) land that was in an NVZ for the first time in 2017, transitional arrangements have been in place to not meet some of the NVZ rules. These arrangements come to an end in July 2019, when the requirement to meet all the NVZ rules starts on 31 July 2019. For more information read SMR 1: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones on page 39 of the guide.

New opportunity for farmers – Arden Farm Wildlife Network

Are you a farmer in the Arden area of Warwickshire interested in:
• Getting support to help you with managing the options in your environmental schemes.
• Keeping up to date with the changes in environmental support and different channels of funding available.
• Improving your farm for wildlife with low cost methods – that can benefit your business too.
• Finding more about what wildlife you have got on your farm?

The Arden Farm Wildlife Network could help you!

If you would like further details then please give Zoe Bell a call or drop her an email.

Contact: Zoe Bell
Telephone: 07980 771872
Email Address:
Website: Open Website

New scheme to encourage investment in superfast broadband

A new scheme for small to medium sized businesses is being piloted in the Warwickshire area to encourage commercial investment in superfast fibre broadband.
The Government’s Local Full Fibre Networks Programme aims to support projects across the UK that will stimulate more commercial investment in full fibre, the “gold standard” of fast and reliable broadband. Coventry and Warwickshire is one of the test regions for the scheme. The programme will see local companies will be offered vouchers (worth between £500 and £3000 each) by broadband suppliers to pay for gigabit capable connections.
More information is available on the website below.

Website: Open Website

NFU Mutual launch new insurance for Smallholders

Smallholdings are an essential piece of the patchwork that makes up our great countryside and are vital to the wellbeing of the farming scene. As the leading rural insurer, NFU Mutual has launched a new insurance that insures smallholders managing small flocks or herds, right through to individuals and families who are keen to get involved in small scale farming. Visit the website to contact your local agent.

Website: Open Website

New Defra code of practice for species control

The “Species Control Provisions: Code of Practice for England” sets out how the provisions for species control agreements and orders contained in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 should be applied by environmental authorities. These powers ensure that, in appropriate circumstances, landowners take action on invasive non-native species or permit others to enter the land and carry out those operations, to prevent their establishment and spread.
For further information please use the link below.

Website: Open Website

Get pelletwise

The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group has produce “A guide to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and slug control”.
To view the guide use the link below.

Website: Open Website

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation

The Department for Transport has proposed the crop cap be set at 4% in 2018, decreasing incrementally until it reaches 2% by 2032. The NFU is calling for the cap, which governs the volume of crop-based biofuels allowed to be used on UK roads, to be set at the maximum possible level of 7%. Many other EU member states have opted for 7% – as per set out in the EU directive, leaving UK arable farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

Parish council help required for broadband rollout

CSW Broadband are looking to work even more closely with parish councils. What they would like to know now is what would parish councils find most helpful to assist you in informing your residents about the broadband rollout and answering their questions?
Please drop an email to, and the team will develop a plan that incorporates as many of your suggestions as possible.

Marketing for plant based substances

The EU Court of Justice has confirmed a ban on products of a ‘purely plant-based substance’ using the term milk, cream, butter, cheese or yoghurt in their marketing. There are some allowances, including coconut milk and ice cream, but the rule applies to all products not on the list of exceptions, such as soya and tofu.

New Red Tractor Stickers Launched

Red Tractor has teamed up with Massey Ferguson to print 15,000 trailer stickers to help farmers spread the positive message of UK Farm Assurance. The stickers bear the slogans “Great Food, Great Farming” and “Trust the Tractor”.
The stickers are free of charge to Red Tractor members.

Website: Open Website

Co-op commits to British farming

Announced last September, a promise to source fresh lamb and bacon from British only sources by the Co-op came into effect this week. This now means that the Co-op sources 100% British beef, chicken, ham, pork, duck and turkey and uses only British meat in all sausages and in its own-label chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches (with the exception of continental varieties in ready meals and sandwiches). This bold move places farming right at the centre of their business and has been widely congratulated by the industry

A new platform for smart farming

The Horizon 2020 thematic network smart AKIS has recently launched a free online platform providing a number of tools to facilitate and promote the use of smart farming technologies.
The platform is intended for farmers, advisory services, agriculture consultants, and farming equipment providers. It includes a database of the latest technologies already available on the market or emerging from research projects. Additionally, it provides guidance, advice and a space for exchange on the use these new technologies.

Website: Open Website

Open Water – chose your water supplier

From 1 April 2017, farms and other eligible business customers in England will be able to choose their supplier of water and waste water retail services.
Businesses which are eligible to switch supplier can choose to shop around and switch to a new retail service provider for water and wastewater services; negotiate a new price and service package with their existing retailer, or a new retailer; or stay with their current retail service provider, accepting default price and service terms.

Contact: None
Telephone: None
Email Address: None
Website: Open Website

Call for vigilance for Sweet Chestnut Blight

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are reminding woodland managers, tree professionals and the plant trade to be vigilant over the coming months for sweet chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica.  Suspected cases in trees and woodland should be reported to the Commission with Tree Alert. Suspected cases in chestnut plants moving in trade, such as in garden centres and nurseries, must be reported to APHA’s Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) on 01904 405138 or

Telephone: 01904 405138

New website about plant pests

A new website to improve access to information about plant pests and diseases has been launched by Defra.
The Plant Health Portal is already making it easier for plant health professionals to share and use vital information on plant pests and diseases, unlocking the power of data to better assess threats and determine action to tackle them.
The site is still under development, and has been launched in ‘beta’ form to enable users to give feedback to inform further improvements. There are plans to add more data and introduce further refinements to the site’s search functions during this second phase. Users are encouraged to send feedback on the site to Defra.

Website: Open Website

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A donation to the Hub of any amount is always gratefully received. However, it is only donations of over £100 that can be acknowledged on the Hub website as a Champion.  A donation can be given to the Hub by cheque, bank payment, standing order or by the Paypal Link Below.

Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm


Registration No: 7026157

Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA

Hub Chairman

Henry Lucas

Rural Hub Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson

Tel: 07780 159291

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Hub Chairman)
Graham Collier (Hub Deputy Chairman)
Paul Rice
Carrie Robbins
Alexandra Robinson
James Walton


Hub Steering Group Members

Luke Ryder, NFU
Mark Dickin, Ellacotts Accountants
Susan Schlee, S2M Marketing
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Mark Meadows, Tithe Farm
Alexandra Robinson, Wright Hassall LLP
Bob Slater, Slater Farm Management Services
Chris Tallis, Tallis Amos Group
Jef Tuyn, Agricultural Consultant
Matt Willmott, King's Seeds
Jon Slee, Abbey Farm


The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

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