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Vote for South Downs wildlife – Vote for Peter Knight

17 August 2012

Samantha Stokes
Media Officer
E-mail: sam.stokes@rspb.org.uk

With the deadline to decide the winner of the Nature of Farming Awards rapidly approaching, the south east finalist is getting political backing.

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert is urging people across the south east to cast their votes to help push South Downs farmer Peter Knight into poll position.

And the word is that it is a desperately close run race.  After taking an early lead, Peter of the Norfolk Estate in Arundel is currently in second place in the national competition to find the UKs most wildlife-friendly farmer.

He is the only south east farmer to be shortlisted this year and, if successful, would be the first ever south east winner of the award.

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited the Norfolk Estate recently to meet with Estate Manager Peter Knight.

Following his visit to meet with Peter on the South Downs above Arundel, Mr. Herbert commented: "I was delighted to hear that Peter and the Norfolk Estate have been recognised with this award and thrilled that they are in the final four for the national prize.

"The Norfolk Estate's work has produced marvelous results, not just conserving the grey partridge but also all the other farmland birds that have benefited.

"I hope that people will vote for them to be the winners."

Managed by Peter for the last 24 years, the Norfolk Estate is a haven for local wildlife. Butterflies, including the rare Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary, feed on the pollen rich crops, while brown hares have flourished in the spring crops, reaching a total of 520 last winter.

Many bird species have also benefited from Peter’s management, including grey partridge, barn owl, lapwing, skylark, kestrel and corn bunting.

Mr. Knight said: “We are only here as custodians of the land for our lifetime and we know that farmland birds have been in rapid decline over the years.

“As a food producer it is our responsibility to find the balance between growing crops to feed the world in the middle of the field and using the outside margins of the fields, through the agri-environment schemes available, to help wildlife.

“It is a passion for us here on the Estate to use these environmental schemes as a facilitator to encourage wildlife.”

The Nature of Farming Award celebrates farmers who successfully incorporate wildlife-friendly farming practices into their day-to-day commercial operations.

Fay Pattinson, RSPB South East agricultural projects officer said: “The Norfolk Estate is a shining example of wildlife-friendly farming in action. We hope the public will step up for nature and vote for Peter to support his efforts to manage the Estate with wildlife in mind whilst maintaining a commercially viable business.”

You can vote for Peter Knight until September 5 by visiting www.rspb.org.uk/peterknight or calling the RSPB on 01767 693680 to request a FREEPOST postal voting form.

Everyone who votes in this year's competition will be entered into a prize draw to win a luxury break for two people at Ragdale Hall worth over £500.

Now in its fifth year, the national competition is run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.

The EU LIFE+ Programme funds RSPB work which supports wildlife-friendly farming that furthers sustainable development in the European Union.

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