A charity has welcomed the formation of a new group to help farmers work together and promote business and the environment in Dorset.

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has shown support for the establishment of The Brit and Hooke Facilitation Fund, a new, collaborative way of farmers working together in west Dorset.

Farmers and landowners will discuss land management, farm business and wildlife conservation issues, as well as opportunities arising from Brexit.

Farmers within five neighbouring river catchments, including the Hooke and Brit, will work together in aims to benefit farm businesses and secure environmental gain in the area. The group has obtained its funding from Natural England and is the only group of its kind in Dorset.

The total farm holdings of the group covers over 4800 hectares and encompass four nationally protected sites, totalling 329 hectares (813 acres), plus a further 12 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

DWT says the successful application to Natural England was led by a shared goal to deliver business and environmental improvements, and a readiness to work together to achieve it.

Alex Butler, of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group south west (FWAGsw), and DWT’s conservation officer Nick Gray, were the driving forces behind the success of the group.

Alex said: "With Brexit looming on the horizon it is an uncertain time for the farming industry, this funding has provided an opportunity to share and spread knowledge and could lead to new ways of working post Brexit that will benefit farmers and the environment."

Nick said: "Dorset Wildlife Trust is delighted to partner FWAGsw in this initiative, it is an area where we have a long-standing history of working with the farmers, and they have some fantastic habitats on their land.

"This sort of group working is very much in-line with policy emerging from the new agriculture proposals currently being reviewed in government. The government paper highlights the crucial role farmers play in maintaining public goods such as biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage, health and wellbeing.”