TENANTS of National Trust (NT) farms in the Lake District will ‘likely’ be encouraged to promote scrub and woodland pasture to provide ‘public benefits’, said a senior member of the charity as he took up his post.

As the NT's new Lakes future farming programme manager, Jez Westgarth will be tasked with ‘securing a future’ for the 90 NT-managed farms in the national park. Mr Westgarth also vowed the charity would be investing in farmhouses and infrastructure.

He said: “We know it is tough right now for the farming community, with still much uncertainty about the future, but there will be opportunities for farmers.”

Last month, the Government’s new Agriculture Bill was aired in Parliament for the first time. It heralded a move to a system of ‘public money for public goods’ post-Brexit, where farmers will be paid for providing ‘public benefits’ such as new woodland.

Mr Westgarth, who lives near Penrith, said that, in the Lake District, such benefits were ‘likely’ to involve “creating and encouraging more scrub and woodland pasture”.

“Working with our tenant farmers, we want farms and farming to stand out for the great public benefits they bring, including nature, beauty and history for everyone for ever.

“Farmers should be recognised for their hard work and innovation in delivering this delicate balance, whilst running successful farm businesses,” he said.

“Over the next five years we will be investing in our farmhouses and infrastructure, strengthening relationships, supporting new entrants and helping to create opportunities for farm business diversification.

“Ultimately, it’s about viable farms producing good food, where nature flourishes, soils are healthier and the land is more robust in the face of climate change, all the while sustaining the globally significant attributes that make the Lake District a World Heritage Site.”

He added: “I have seen some great examples of farm diversification, nature friendly farming and know of tenants involved in projects to slow the flow of water through the landscape to benefit people and nature.”