Dartmoor Test & Trial Project Board Meeting Notes
Notes from he second meeting of the Dartmoor Test & Trial (T&T) Project Board (PB) which took place via video call on the 10th July.
Almost all members were present: Russell Ashford (DHFP), Eamon Crowe (NE), Philip French (DaCC), Chris Giles (DNPA), Tom Stratton (DCOA) and John Waldon (independent & Chair). Kevin Bishop was unable to attend but replaced by Ally Kohler (DNPA), and Harriet Bell, Dartmoor ELMs Project Officer, in attendance.
1. Chair led welcome, introductions and re-fresh on the use of Lifesize.
2. Chris Giles delivered a budget update:
- Ran through budget outline.
- Highlighted Defra is happy for money to be moved between financial quarters but not financial years. Money can also, seemingly be moved between budget priorities.
Question: Can Defra be approached about budget under spend resulting from COVID in last financial year be moved to this year?
-This will be clarified but the value of such an action may depend on the work involved as the under spend was minor.
3. Discussion on how best to utilize budget for farmer payment as delivery method has been impacted by COVID.
- Agree that it may have more value to support trial implementation and doing site visits.
- Lockdown rules are beginning to enable site visits.
- Chair felt Defra decision that Chair costs should come out of farmer budget is incorrect and should be challenged.
- Agree need to update Advisory Team on this item.
Action: CG as all agree this should continue to be reviewed in order to avoid underspend make farmer payment issue rolling agenda item for budget updates.
HB to update Advisory Team.
4. Project Officer update on work to date and project progression
- 14 Advisory Team sessions on Natural Capital, public goods, blended finance, land management plan approaches and some additional talks for information and interest.
- Papers on Natural Capital, Payment by Results, a possible blended finance approach and offering options on Land Management Plan frameworks.
- Using Dartmoor Hill Farm Project platforms to try and reach out to wider community as well as through Commons Associations and other stakeholders but reach seemingly quite limited.
- Immediately next steps are identifying framework for Land Management Plans so we can build in detail and tender for additional expertise, particularly on the economics.
- Continue exploring blended finance options: discussion on credits, working with existing water based stakeholders to see if their various offers could be brought together, trying to engage with regional businesses e.g. Michelmores and LEP.
- When Land Management Plan more advanced introduce Payments by Results approach, gauge interest in different models and trial options before tendering contracts to co-develop detail.
- Continue to reach out to new groups, take opportunities for stakeholder engagement, particularly as lock down eases.
5. Any questions on material covered thus far?
Raised on behalf of the Advisory Team that there has been disquiet about the role of the Project Board.
-Chair wanted to stress Project Board is there to support and offer guidance to Project Officer, ensure the project stays within budget and addresses agreed research outputs. The Project Board is not in existence to edit or alter outcomes from the Advisory Team.
Action: HB to upload Project Board terms with these notes to the DHFP website.
ELMs is such a new concept that it’s quite difficult to get people’s heads around.
-Chair highlighted the importance of timing events well within the farming calendar an identifying appropriate language for engaging different audiences. PB members may be a good sounding board for information.
Raised on behalf of the Advisory Team that being able to get out and do site visits will be an important step forward in the process of the Test & Trial.
[Please see next agenda item.]
One of the most significant concerns is around the impact of ELMs on tenant farmers
Action: HB to more proactively reach out to young farmers, maybe via HFP Next Generation Group.
Land owner engagement is being picked up and it’s going to be really important to look at how they can be positively integrated into the process to ensure optimum ELMs delivery for Dartmoor and address the concerns of any tenant farmers.
Action: TS and HB work in progress.
6. Discuss possibility of site visits
-Consensus this is very important and should be enabled to happen as soon as it’s safe to do so.
7. Discuss Natural Capital (NC) and Payment by Results (PBR) papers
- NC paper good in terms of context setting.
- PBR & NC papers both raise the reliability of data used to make decisions and this has also come through in Advisory Team discussions. This is a concern because PBR and natural capital understanding rely on robust data.
- PBR: paper didn’t really address some of the potential problems with the approach.
- PBR: It’s incumbent on us to be as open about where we think things won’t work as where they will.
- PBR: We have experience which does indicate that enabling self-assessment can positively impact farmer engagement and trust in data.
- PBR: Has its place in certain areas but a broad suite of features may work better.
HB: Make clear that the Natural Capital paper (now available on the Hill Farm Project website) is in relation to the project research strand around “What is the role of National Parks in spatial priority setting."
HB: Ensure any papers made public have the context about their role in the Test & Trial made very clear and ensure people feel like they can make contact with the Project Officer if they have any concerns or questions.
HB: Do more to highlight the problems with a PBR approach in the paper.
HB: Set (a third) deadline for comments on PBR paper by 19th July. Final edit with HB.
ALL: Reply to Project Officer with comments on PBR paper. Project Officer requested that in particular any views on the potential research options, or alternatives, would be very welcome.
8. Date for next meeting - 20th August 2020