COP26 Special Reports: Kendal farmer who is putting the environment first on his farm

As Glasgow prepares for world leaders to discuss climate change at the COP26 summit in November, ITV Border will be looking at how the environmental crisis impacts our region and some of the measures already being taken.

In the first of our special reports, our Climate Correspondent Hannah Mcnulty has been speaking to one man putting the environment first on his farm.

James Robinson's family has been farming this land just outside of Kendal for nearly 150 years.

He's an organic dairy farmer which means he uses no pesticides or artificial fertiliser but he's also passionate about conservation and biodiversity within the 300-acre farm.

James is part of a national network of nature-friendly farmers and has offered to show us some of the things he's done, from the big to the very small.

This plant is considered a weed by many farmers who use chemicals to get rid of it, James lets them grow giving a home to important insects.

Speaking about the plants, he said: "These are providing a food source for larger invertebrates and for birds and bats and things. They're an important part of the food chain and if he'd been in a conventional farm and sprayed them they'd be nothing further up the food chain."

Increasing biodiversity has led James to buy more land and create wildflower meadows from around 13 acres.

It allows the farm to get some Government payments to manage them, and they're home to around 100 species.

While a field of trees may not be practical for all farms, hedgerows do a job and help conservation.

Helping the environment can also benefit another problem linked to our changing climate especially in this part of the world - flooding.

Cumbria has seen three major floods in recent years, with places like Cockermouth among the worst affected.

In the 1960s the family bought more land including a beck which they straightened as at the time that was considered better for farming practices.

Now we know that this increases the chances of flooding, as the water flows too fast.

Recently they've completed their latest project of 'rewiggling' - digging a trench to allow the water to find a different course, and slowing the flow during heavy rain.

With farming producing greenhouse gases, the Government recently called on people to cut their consumption of red meat and dairy.

James believes this is not the answer, he said: "Telling people to eat less red meat and dairy is very general.

"If we are seen to be building habitats and protecting hedges, trying to reduce our own carbon footprint on the farm, then other people will do their fair share. We all got a role to play."

According to the latest data from the International Energy Agency, the top five countries for carbon-dioxide emissions are (figures based on 2018 and may vary year by year):

  • China (9,500 metric tonnes)

  • United States (4,900 metric tonnes)

  • India (2,300 metric tonnes)

  • Russia (1,600 metric tonnes)

  • Japan (1,100 metric tonnes)

The United Kingdom, by comparison, emitted around 352 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018 – though still features among the 20 biggest polluters for the gas.