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ALL FREE LAND TO BE PROTECTED

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Environment and agriculture ministers are drawing up plans that would give all uncultivated land in England and Wal...
Environment and agriculture ministers are drawing up plans that would give all uncultivated land in England and Wales protection similar to that of a nature reserve, reported The Sunday Times (p2). Under the scheme landowners and farmers would face penalties if they damaged wildlife, even on land that has never been considered worthy of formal protection.

The rules would cover millions of acres of woodlands and meadows and thousands of miles of hedgerow that are at risk of ploughing, intensive farming, grazing or other forms of agriculture. Legislation would also force farmers to consider such issues as the impact of applying fertilisers on neighbouring fields.

The regulations would mark a radical departure from the current system under which wildlife habitats are protected only if they are on land that has been scientifically surveyed and then formally declared a protected area. About a tenth of the land area of England and Wales lies within such reserves, but the remaining 90% is considered increasingly vulnerable.
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