Have your say on future of council farms

Copyright Heather Jan Brunt
Copyright Heather Jan Brunt

The future of council-owned farmland in Chronicle country is to go out for consultation.

Central Bedfordshire Council manages around 4,700 acres of public farmland across the area and is consulting on its draft Farms Plan over the next 10 years.

The farms are rented to 58 tenants across the Central Bedfordshire area, with a number of farms south of Biggleswade and Sandy and around Arlesey and Stotfold.

Local authorities have to provide chances for people with agricultural experience to farm. Alongside this, there are wider public benefits to the council owning the land. These include providing greater public access to the countryside; income for the council; greater control over the pace and type of development in rural areas; and encouraging initiatives to boost biodiversity and maintaining the look and feel of the countryside.

Councillor Eugene Ghent, Executive Member for Assets, said: “We need a plan for our farmland to meet the challenges and opportunities over the next 10 years. Our proposed approach is to have a more manageable smaller number of farms of a larger size, with more proactive management. We will also be looking at buying more land, to ensure we have at least 2,000 hectares on our estate for future generations to benefit from.”

There will be an eight-week public consultation process on the draft farms estate plan. The public can have their say online at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations. Paper copies are available from local libraries and leisure centres. The consultation runs until 5pm on 19 August with feedback being considered by the Council’s Executive Committee on 9 October.