Farmers are among the best placed to look after our countryside and would need to work in tandem with any initiatives aimed at protecting the countryside.

So says chairman of Northumberland national park, Glen Sanderson, who was reacting to calls by three of country’s largest conservation charities for the government to spend £3bn to help restore nature and tackle climate change on farmers’ land.

The RSPB, National Trust and the Wildlife Trusts say a long-term financial commitment to pay farmers and land managers is needed if they are to help the government and devolved administrations meet their respective commitments to recover the natural environment and address the climate crisis.

The figure is on a par with the current UK Common Agricultural Policy budget of £3.2bn and the charities say this would need to be reinvested to fund a number of initiatives including the recovery of farmland wildlife, such as lapwing, hares, and pollinating insects; creating and enhancing wildlife habitats, including wildflower meadows, peatlands and native woodlands; protecting soils and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by restoring ecosystems, planting trees and hedges.

Coun. Sanderson said it was important that everyone worked together and used the expertise that farmers had to offer.

“We have been working with the government on a number of initiatives to help them bring forward a scheme for some support which would allow the encouragement of natural species and biodiversity,” he said.

“We have got a number of schemes up and running in the national park and we know the former higher level environment scheme was very successful – increasing species like curlews.

“What happens next is very important and the government has a responsibility to ensure we do everything we can while ensuring an income for the farming communities.

“What I would say is farmers are natural environmentalists. They do everything they can to increase biodiversity on the land they farm.”

Coun. Sanderson added that he wanted to ensure the benefits of the current systems remained, looking after the welfare of the countryside which farmers farmed.

“Hopefully we can all work together to find something to go forward.”