UK

PM’s fiancee rubbishes claim that she’s teamed up with Zac Goldsmith to impose green rules

Carrie Symonds in red tape row with farming lobby: PM’s fiancee rubbishes claim that she’s teamed up with Zac Goldsmith to impose green rules

  • Member of farming lobby claims industry could be tied up with green rules
  • Concerns Carrie Symonds has influenced Boris Johnson on policy and staff
  • The claims were denied by Number 10 as well as the Environment Department 

The Prime Minister’s fiancee Carrie Symonds was embroiled in a new row last night, accused of teaming up with Minister Zac Goldsmith to try to tie up farmers in red tape to protect the environment.

A leading member of the farming lobby claimed that the Prime Minister’s fiancee was using her influence in Downing Street, and her friendship with Mr Goldsmith, to pack the Environment Bill with ‘burdensome’ regulations cutting pollution and protecting livestock.

Ms Symonds has faced repeated claims that she has influenced Boris Johnson’s stance on policy and recruitment of key staff, but a No 10 source dismissed claims that Ms Symonds plays any role in government.

Ms Symonds has faced repeated claims that she has influenced Boris Johnson’s stance on policy and recruitment of key staff

Both Ms Symonds and Environment Minister Goldsmith (pictured) are passionate supporters of the environment and animal welfare

Both Ms Symonds and Environment Minister Goldsmith (pictured) are passionate supporters of the environment and animal welfare

XR mass trespass plan is ‘blatant anarchism’ 

By Valerie Eliott 

Extinction Rebellion is mobilising eco-activists for a mass trespass of the countryside – sparking fury from rural campaigners.

The demo is being organised by XR North for Saturday April 24, the anniversary of the Kinder Scout trespass in Derbyshire in 1932, which pioneered the ‘right to roam’ movement.

XR’s website warns activists taking part that aggravated trespass could bring a fine of up to £300 for a first offence.

Claiming that much private land is ‘criminally misused’, it adds: ‘Taxpayers give £3 billion a year to landowners and yet we are denied access to 92 per cent of the land in England.’

Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance, called the action ‘blatant anarchism’. The Country, Land and Business Association, said it ‘beggared belief’ that farmers who worked to produce food through the pandemic might face the threat of trespassers.

XR North said it didn’t want the demo to be ‘confrontational’.

The claims were also denied by the Environment Department.

Both Ms Symonds and Environment Minister Goldsmith are passionate supporters of the environment and animal welfare.

But farmers are concerned that new ‘polluter pays’ rules and other measures included in the Environment Bill passing through the Commons could add to their costs at a time when they are targeting post-Brexit markets.

They are also concerned about new gene-editing technologies which promise to protect crops and animals from pests and disease, cut carbon emissions and allow farmers to produce more food – but would threaten their export markets because of EU rules.

One farming lobby member said: ‘All this stuff seems to be driven away from Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs], with a lot of the energy coming from the Zac-Carrie axis. There is merit in gene-editing, but it will be self-defeating if we lose market access.

‘The bigger danger comes from the Environment Bill – agriculture must remain competitive. Businesses will not remain competitive and market-driven if there is too much of a greenwash.’

But a Defra source insisted that Mr Goldsmith in fact had ‘little to do with farming policy on a day-to-day basis, and many of the provisions in the bill preceded his time as a Minister’. The source added: ‘Our three future agricultural schemes – the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery – will form the cornerstone of our future farm funding model by rewarding farmers and land managers for producing public goods like biodiversity, cleaner water, cleaner air and improved soil.

‘The landmark Environment Bill will include the “polluter pays” principle that those who cause pollution or damage to the environment should be responsible for mitigation or compensation.

However, the source added this idea ‘is not something new, with the Environment Agency already taking action when companies and individuals damage the environment’.

A Defra spokesman said: ‘We are taking a new approach, to help our farmers produce healthy food for consumption at home and abroad and incentivise them to improve environmental outcomes.

‘Rather than the top-down rules and bureaucracy of the EU era, we are supporting the choices farmers make and are working with them to design these future policies, to ensure they are right for the farmers of today and tomorrow.’

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