CAMPAIGNING scarecrows have ventured out of their fields and into a town centre to look after their farms from a new position.

Scarecrows in the form of Stanley Laurel, Ashley – inspired by Asher the son of Jacob and a long eared owl will be in Bishop Auckland this week to promote a campaign by conservation charity WWF-UK.

Stand Up For British Standards aims to celebrate and protect the quality of British food and farming.

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Organisers say the scarecrows, designed by artist Laura Brenchley, give a nod to local history and offer a fun opportunity for shoppers to pose for a photo with them but also bring a serious message to the town.

The charity believes that British food standards are under threat and its campaign calls on MPs, food producers, businesses and shoppers to get involved in the campaign.

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WWF-UK urges MPs to make sure high food quality, environment and animal welfare standards are enshrined in upcoming trade deals and legislation.

Katie White, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF, said: “Farmers across Bishop Auckland and the North East work hard to make sure the food we eat is safe and healthy and our beautiful countryside is there for generations to enjoy.

“Britain has some of the highest standards in the world and our farmers are ready to go further to help the country prosper after Brexit.

“There’s a risk that trade deals being struck by the Government right now could undercut our farmers, put low quality food on our shelves, and pollute our local environment.

“To stop that from happening we urgently need protection in law for our high standards of food quality, environmental protection and animal welfare.”

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The charity is particularly concerned that Brexit poses a risk to high British Standards by trading with other markets which condone the use of certain pesticides on crops and the injection of hormones in meat.

The campaign is backed by local producers including Caroline and Graham Tweedle from Acorn Dairies, near Darlington, beef and wheat farmer Lucinda Bird and beekeeper and farmer Nikita Garner, from near Hartlepool, and the UK’s leading producer of ancient grain wheat Stephen Cragg, of Sedgefield.

It is also backed by Hussain Ahmed, who runs a restaurant in Bedlington.

The scarecrows and props were made from local and sustainable materials, including reused clothing and biodegradable hay and straw.

Bishop Auckland-based Ms Brenchley said: “As a local artist my work is greatly inspired by nature.

“I am becoming increasingly aware of the damage which potentially harmful pesticides can do to our wildlife.

"I think this campaign raises awareness of the need to protect the standards we currently have in Britain and I am delighted to help celebrate the quality of our local produce.”

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