Sir, - The CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) in the North-East is supporting the new entry level agri-environment scheme being piloted in our area.

The beautiful upland landscape in Teesdale around Barnard Castle has been shaped and maintained by farming for centuries. Now the farming community is being offered reward for its stewardship of the land and is being encouraged and enabled to farm in an environmentally-sensitive way, by taking up this new financial support.

We hope that the pilot is a great success, as we believe that all farmers should be eligible for such schemes and that those already maintaining hedges and stone walls should get support.

CPRE is involved in monitoring the North-East part of the England Rural Development Plan, which includes both agri-environment schemes and farm diversification projects.

We gave evidence to the Curry Commission and were pleased that the commission urged greater support for local food and a gradual transfer of public funding from agricultural over-production to more environmentally-friendly farming. These are the ideas, now being adopted by government in its Strategy for the Future of Food and Farming, which have led to the Barnard Castle pilot.

Farming has been badly affected by many factors over several years and we hope that this scheme will help family farms stay in business whilst encouraging and supporting a positive approach to the environment. This new scheme may seem only a small step but if it takes off it could be a stride in the right direction.

CPRE has local groups and is always pleased to welcome new volunteers to help us campaign for sustainable environmental and landscape values in the countryside, but we'd particularly like to hear from people interested in helping us monitor this scheme.


Secretary, CPRE North East Regional Group


Barnard Castle.

Medical option

Sir, - Now that the Key Centre, which is based at Middleham, is in such good heart financially and is able to offer free office accommodation, could this be an opportune moment to ask our local GPs to use it as an outreach medical facility?

We are about to have a PFI new medical centre built at Leyburn and possibly there could not be a better time to set the ball rolling here in Middleham. It would be of benefit to both Coverdale and the villages south of Middleham, particularly as a mother and toddler group meet regularly at the Key Centre - where better to have on-site medical check-ups and even innoculations?

It would also be of immense help to the racing fraternity and save huge amounts of time in travelling to Leyburn for follow-up appointments. Patients from outlying areas who would find it easier only having to travel as far as Middleham, could also collect their repeat prescriptions.

In Coverdale and Mid-Wensleydale large sums of money are raised for the Friarage Hospital and I am sure some of this money could be made available for a local clinic in Middleham. I believe this is a facility which is available, and a success, in other Dales villages.

The Key Centre founded its reputation on IT so let us use it in a local medical facility!


Westwood House,