NCFed have been seeking clarification since the new DEFRA regulations on Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition standards (GAEC) or Cross Compliance were published, which seemed to suggest that anyone in receipt of EU funding for woodland work would be obliged to not cut coppice between May and September!
It has now been announced that in fact woodlands are exempt from these guidelines. There will be a minimum area to constitute ‘woodland’ but it seems we can breathe a sigh of relief. We think it might be because CANW member Ian Taylor sent a letter that NCFed had drafted to his MP Tim Farron who took it up with the minister, Tim has a great track record for getting things done. Ian had made the point that the entire oak bark tanning industry was at risk if we were unable to fell and peel oak in the peeling season.
We are continuing to press for more recognition of coppicing in the new grant scheme ‘Countryside Stewardship’ because at the moment it seems as though anything tagged ‘woodland conservation’ has fallen between two stools and has little or no support under the new regime. We are told that there is still room for movement, so it is not too late to press for changes.
Do get in touch [with Rebecca Oaks] if you want more info or ideas for action.