THE chairman of the Tyne Rivers Trust is due to step down later this year after almost seven years in the role.

Hugo Remnant has been a board member with the trust since 2007, but is preparing to hand over the mantle, at a time when the trust is looking ahead to an ever-changing environment.

Hugo is also a chartered surveyor and land agent at Galbraith in Hexham, and believes land agents, farmers, and consultancy groups like the trust will soon have to work together to change farming as environmental pressures continue to grow.

He said: “A good river is of benefit to everyone. The ability of the trust to influence things for the better is huge.

“We’re on the cusp of something quite important, because the environment is at the top of the agenda. The important thing has been jobs and economic growth, business is what drives the economy, but we’re realising now that we can’t have that unless you look after the environment.

“For the catchment of the Tyne, it means instead of supporting farmers for farming their lands, they’re going to be supported for looking after land.

“There will be opportunities to improve the quality of the catchment, and for the trustees that’s very exciting.

“We’d really like to be part of that and we would really like to be there supporting farmers to take advantage of the new system.”

The trust has worked with communities in the Tyne catchment to improve the river since 2004. Hugo hopes that even more can be done to improve all aspects of the river for the benefit of all, particularly as government policy shifts from providing subsidies for food production. It will require a change in the way farmers use their land – but Hugo is not suggesting that land is abandoned.

He added: “I think a much misunderstood word is rewilding – it means different things to different people. It doesn’t need to mean farmers have to withdraw from the land and do nothing with it – you can rewild and continue to farm.

“I’m really interested in how the trust can help farmers with the new government policies that will be worked out this year. As a land agent, I’m interested in how we can engage with them and the trust to make a success of it.”