The National Sheep Association has said it is 'unacceptable' to suggest sheep in the uplands are to blame for any environmental, access or biodiversity issues that arise.
The association was referring specifically to the recent floods being used as an opportunity to criticise the sheep farming community.
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “The suggestion that our uplands should be used to hold and store water
and that sheep farming not only prevents this but makes the situation worse is unfounded and irresponsible.
"The anti-farming lobby conveniently chooses not to mention that many of our lowland drainage systems are centuries old and that our wildlife has evolved in line with the farming and land practices over this period. They ignore the fact that many of these drainage systems have fallen into disrepair – often on purpose with the aim of creating habitat museums. They also ignore the fact that so much of our land area is concreted and tarmacked with no water
“Sadly BBC Countryfile chose this subject to give airtime to George Monbiot’s ‘dreams’ at a time when global needs are about using our natural capital wisely to feed a growing population, using fewer resources in doing so and improving our environment at the same time.
"Times change and we are disadvantaged by often only seeing with one’s own lifetime. It was only six or seven years ago that our uplands were far more industrious than they are now, yet in this era we seem to be constantly trying to make parks and museums of them instead.
“Of course there is no one size that fits all solutions – we need to protect the carbon stored in our peat-lands, we need trees, we need to manage our water
far more carefully – but we also need to feed ourselves, protect our agricultural diversity and consider people and rural communities in all of this.”