Friday, 22 October 2021

Organic farmer calls on MP to support bill

Organic farmer calls on MP to support bill

A FARMER is backing calls for the Government to do everything it can to limit the impact of climate change.

Iain Tolhurst, who runs the Tolhurst Organic farm, off Hardwick Road in Whitchurch, is urging Henley MP John Howell to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

The private members’ bill, which received its first reading in the House of Commons last month, also calls for the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems and the formation of citizens’ assemblies to propose green measures.

Mr Tolhurst, who has farmed his land for more than 30 years, grows only plant crops on “stock free” principles, meaning he grazes no animals nor uses any animal by-products such as manure.

This drastically reduces the amount of carbon dioxide or methane produced by his business. Both are “greenhouse gases” which contribute to climate change.

The bill seeks to limit the rise in temperature to no more than 1.5C in accord ance with the Paris Agreement and supporters say anything greater would be disastrous for the planet.

Mr Tolhurst says the Government should provide subsidies to help farmers meet the cost of relying less on livestock.

He said: “We did it in the Second World War because we had to feed the nation and it had a hugely beneficial effect but we can’t rely on market forces to force that change again.

“Farmers are quick to adapt to new challenges but the system has to support it. Agriculture isn’t the only contributor to the problem but it is one of many so it’s one area where the Government could make a difference.

“We now farm an unsustainable amount of livestock and while the planet will ultimately survive an increase in world temperatures, people will not if we don’t act now.”

The bill is championed by the Greener Henley environmental group and the CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire as well as several Henley businesses, including watchmaker Bremont and pub company Brakspear.

Among its individual supporters are broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle, from Fawley, and naturalist Professor Richard Fortey, of St Andrew’s Road, Henley.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, is the only one in the county to have backed it but Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and Henley Town Council have all declared a climate emergency.

Mr Howell says he supports the bill in principle but it has flaws which make it unworkable in practice and the Government is already doing enough to make a difference.

The alliance has drafted an open letter seeking to change his mind, which can be signed at ceebillallianceoxon.co.uk/open-letter

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters
@henleystandard.co.uk

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