In 1997, amid widespread concerns about the effects of agricultural intensification on the upland environment and the economic difficulties facing upland farming communities, attention was turning to the next round of reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and, in particular, to the encouragement of an integrated approach to sustainable rural development under the (then) proposed Rural Development Regulation. Against this background, MAFF (now DEFRA) decided to carry out a 2 year experimental upland project in order to test a mechanism for such an approach to rural development and to identify lessons which could be learned for the formulation of future policy. The Experiment aimed to test measures which could be used to link business initiatives with management of the environment and was trialled in two areas; Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and the Forest of Bowland AONB in Lancashire. Under the Experiment, farmers used a single application process for a range of grant schemes (primarily Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Objective 5b). The Experiment, was launched in March 1999 and ran until June 2001. It was developed with, and run by, partnerships of local organisations, with local county councils as lead partners.
This evaluation will identity the effects on the areas and participants concerned of integrating the delivery of rural development and environmental measures. The evaluation will consider the feasibility of adopting a similar approach on a national scale and make appropriate recommendations.