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17th May 2023

Sunak pledges sweeping changes to local planning laws after meeting Diddly Squat farmers

Jack Peat

The prime minister will make it easier for British farmers to diversify their incomes

Rishi Sunak has pledged to free British farmers from burdensome red tape when converting barns to farm shops and opening restaurants.

The prime minister welcomed Clarkson’s Farm star Kaleb Cooper to Downing Street as part of the ‘Farm to Fork’ summit, which sets out issues being faced by the farming sector.

After several infamous rows with local governing bodies, Jeremy Clarkson has become an unlikely face of the struggles farmers face to keep producing.

And his much-loved sidekick, Kaleb, could have secured a famous victory after lobbying the prime minister in his own back garden.

Sunak is set to announce that farmers will no longer need to seek permission from local councils to repurpose farm buildings.

Downing Street has revealed plans to “increase the resilience” of Britain’s farming industry and “support its growth”.

This includes proposals to “cut the red tape currently holding farmers back from delivering projects on their land to diversify their incomes, such as repurposing farm buildings to use as shops”, No10 added.

A consultation on the proposals will be launched later this year.

Asked whether farmers could also set up restaurants in repurposed farm buildings, the PM’s official spokesman told reporters: “Shops is an example, so what we’re announcing are plans to remove the barriers that farmers face when trying to diversify their businesses.

“So, for example, they won’t face the kind of red tape they did previously when looking to change barns to farm shops or use them to process goods for sale.

“Because, under the plans, they would no longer require local authority consent. It’s going to be consulted on later this year.”

Sunak’s spokesman praised Clarkson’s Farm as being “important in raising some of the issues farmers face and some of the policy set out today will support the farming sector”.

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