A NEW fund to help farmers and land managers in the Quantock Hills has been announced.

It forms part of the new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme announced by Defra, and it will be open to applications from July 1.

Between now and the end of March 2022, there will be £130,000 awarded, with further funding rounds in 2022 and 2023.

Thanks to the fund, farmers and land managers will be supported when they carry out projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage, and support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses.

The funding is for one-off projects covering these areas of work, and not an agri-environment scheme.

Anthony Trollope-Bellew, chair of the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) partnership and a Somerset West and Taunton councillor, said: “This funding will allow local decision making for how farmers and landowners are supported in the management of this treasured landscape.”

A similar fund will also be available to help farmers in all protected landscapes - National Parks and AONB's.

The programme is part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan.

It has been developed by Defra with the support of a group of AONB and National Park staff from across the country.

The Quantock Hills AONB Unit will be appointing a landscape/farm engagement officer to help farmers apply and a local assessment panel to ensure awards are independently decided.

For more information visit quantockhills.com.