A HAMPSHIRE peer has said the next government should help landowners to improve the natural environment.

Brexit, climate change and the future of British farming were among the issues raised by Lord Montagu in his speech at the annual Beaulieu Estate dinner.

Lord Montagu said: "We are certainly living through extraordinary political times.

"The agricultural sector in particular has been in suspense ever since the the referendum result and the much talked about Agriculture Bill still sits in abeyance until the outcome of the General Election is known.

New Forest Post:

"The greatest challenge of all is not our relationship with Europe but adopting sustainable ways of managing our natural resources for the future of the whole planet.

"Last year I drew your attention to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their prediction that the planet will be 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030 and that this in turn could trigger droughts, wildfires, floods and food shortages.

"Some would say this is already happening.

"The IPCC warns that this can only be curtailed by drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This will require unprecedented commitment from each country's government for whatever measures are considered necessary, and significant changes for every one of us.

New Forest Post:

"Whilst we all like the idea of acting locally, I still think we need the next government to establish the framework for us all to work within.

"I hope it will seriously grasp this nettle once the preoccupation of Brexit passes.

"One part of this may be a regime where landowners and managers are incentivised to improve our natural captial by delivering environmental benefits such as clean air and water - and good soil health - as well as producing quality food."

This year's guest speaker was Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers' Union, who also spoke about Brexit.

She described the potential impact on farming of the three possible outcomes - leaving with a deal, leaving without a deal, or not leaving at all.