Project Board Meeting Notes
Notes from the third meeting of the Dartmoor Test & Trial (T&T) Project Board (PB) which took place via video call on the 3rd September.
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.
CG: Budget - no change as between quarters but having followed up on the question of whether funding underspent from last year can be brought into this year it’s unlikely and, given the small amount, probably not a worthwhile endeavour.
HB: Project Update
Project Officer updated the group on latest Advisory Team sessions and challenge around blended finance.
Payment by results
Payment by results discussed locally for over 10 year and acceptance of payments by results but concerns over its applicability to commons and moorland. How do you ensure reward to those who deliver action within a collective?
Don’t dumb down innovation to fall in line with the latest ministers inclination, we should still reach for the sky and be ambitious
Project Officer looked to group for guidance as believes this is likely to be a challenging and difficult topic and would welcome any input/experience/guidance as the Advisory Team commences working through looking at how commons agreements could work under ELMs. In particular the PO raised concern that there did not seem to be any single organisation who could take on this role which has the full trust of the stakeholder community and that, often, agreements seemed to be largely a source of a breakdown in both trust and communications. PO updated on some of the thoughts to date such as one agreement for the whole of Dartmoor and having a new management body, which might also link to blended finance and distributing money.
Just handing out a pot is never going to deliver value for money especially if the process of distributing the money is not precise and confirmed.
How to distribute money based on work delivery has been a challenge throughout AE schemes (for 25 years). Defra want a simple system. Govt. would seem inclined to give the money to anyone in order not to have to deal with the situation themselves. The RPA have offered to engage on this topic.
Individual farm agreements where the commons is an additional bolt on might be an area to explore. The link to the home farm was explored at the start of the ESA but not progressed as the links were not always clear. 25 years later we might be better placed to explore and develop this idea.
There is a real concern that we may get to a point where the politicians won’t pay on common land because it’s too hard.
We have to have something ready relating to carbon and water etc. because they are the real selling points, but it’s the payments for outcomes relating to land management that are difficult. The idea of capital payments linked to public goods and having pots of money for delivery needs exploring. We need to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past because the farming community won’t forgive us for that.
We’re on a trajectory of the scorecard, which is a good one; we need to look at some suggested broad structures for the commons. We should be reinforcing the message to Defra now about the importance of the common to the home farms so that they don’t lose sight of that. If we used the scorecard approach then a base level of points could be offered to all commons. The scheme at a basic level needs to cover and ensure farm viability.
On Dartmoor we have considerable experience (good and bad) in administering schemes, we need to use this experience.
Would payment in arrears based on what has been demonstrably delivered mitigate the risk?
JW: Exeter University
Exeter University have been commissioned by Defra (ELMs development team) to gather information on collaborative working. They have selected Dartmoor Farming Futures as a case study. Interviews with farmers engaged in DFF are underway.