Fenland SOIL is a not-for-profit members organisation that has been established to research, inform, and develop ‘whole farm’ land use policy, with a primary goal of achieving climate change mitigation and biodiversity enhancement in the Fens.
Why was Fenland SOIL Established?
Fenland SOIL was formed in 2021 in response to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority's Independent Commission on Climate (CPICC) report. As a cross functional Stakeholder group of academics, scientists, environmentalists, local authority members, landowners and with a dedicated team of farmers at its core. The group aims to tackle climate issues relating to agriculture and peat in the Pens and scientifically agree a set of numbers for greenhouse gas emissions for deep, shallow, and wasted peat soils. It is anticipated that by acting as a united stakeholder group and showing proactivity the organisation will positively influence and help shape government policy so that it is fair and realistic for the farmers that will be tasked with implementing it. Our members believe 'the best defence for farming is to stop being so defensive'.
Who makes up Fenland SOIL?
Fenland SOIL is chaired by John Shropshire (Chairman G's Fresh Ltd and CPICC Commissioner). The group operates across five workstreams with dedicated and diverse group members, with each group led by a specialist chairperson:
The Fenland Farmer's Dialogue Group (Nick Allpress, Allpress Farms Ltd, LAPTF)
Landscape mapping (Ian Holman, Cranfield University)
Nature based systems (Mike Maunder, University of Cambridge)
Measuring greenhouse gas emissions (Chris Evans, UKCEH)
Economics (Mat Smith, F Smith and Sons Ltd, NFU County Chairman)
Across the workstreams Fenland SOIL brings together farmers and growers from across the Dens, academics, conservationists, and other key local stakeholders to address the project in a holistic way.
Fenland SOIL is a not-for-profit members organisation. The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has awarded Fenland SOIL £50,000 a year for 2 years. This funding is match funded by contributions from farmers and growers through membership payments in a banded payment scheme, based on farm size. The project has also secured project grants including Natural England Peatland Restoration Discovery Grant (awarded in December 2021), alongside awards from charity and philanthropic organisations.