PLANS to transform Cornwall Council's farms estate to deliver a more sustainable future for farmers, residents and the environment have been revealed.

The council’s farm estate is made up of more than 10,800 acres, or approximately 1.5 per cent of Cornwall’s land area, and lets 91 farm units to tenant farmers.

Last year the council launched a review and inquiry into the future of the estate, taking evidence from 39 witnesses and made recommendations for a new Council Farms Strategy.

Deputy Leader Adam Paynter, who holds the Farms Portfolio, said: “The Council’s Farms Estate is a major contributor to the local economy and we have to make responsible use of this important asset and ensure it helps deliver a sustainable future for us all.

“Our Farms Strategy sets out Cornwall Council’s ambitions to deliver farming and business opportunities for tenants to set up and grow successful businesses that also deliver environmental growth, promote health and wellbeing and enhance the distinctive historic landscape of Cornwall.

Now residents, farmers, businesses are being asked their views on the plans through a public consultation which has launched recently.

The draft Cornwall Council Farms Strategy 2019 – 2039: Farming with Cornwall’s Nature has been developed around four key ambitions to:

• increase business opportunities for tenant farmers

• contribute to environmental growth

• provide more countryside opportunities and support people’s health and wellbeing

• create a more sustainable estate

The strategy outlines ways the farms estate will provide more opportunities for new entrants to farming, to start their careers and support them to build their businesses.

It pledges to encourage tenant farmers using diversification methods by helping them develop their farm products to be more competitive.

To boost environmental growth the estate plans to give greater support to tenants in expanding wildlife habitats, protecting heritage assets, managing regenerated soils, improving water quality, planting more trees and increasing sustainable energy.

It also wants to increase job and business opportunities in the countryside, encourage more people to get out in nature and provide supported agriculture schemes for residents and community groups to develop growing opportunities.

To help businesses’ financial and environmental sustainability the estate will introduce the Whole Farm Plan to set out agreements between landlord and tenant on the expected performance of farms.

Cllr Paynter added: “We know that farming practices which benefit nature can also be highly productive for food production and support local ecosystems. By encouraging these good methods of production we will have a substantial impact on realising the potential of the Estate over the next decade.

“We are confident our Farms Estate can act as a catalyst for positive change within the farming sector to produce food for the nation and to play a part in the transition to low carbon agriculture which is critical if we are to tackle climate change.”

Residents have until August 5 to give their views on the strategy through a survey.

The results of the public consultation will be reported to the Council’s Cabinet in September.