Conservation charity the National Trust has appointed a manager to head up its ‘future farming’ programme.

The trust – which manages 90 farms in partnership with its tenants – has unveiled Jez Westgarth as programme manager after he moved from the Environment Agency (EA).

Mr Westgarth, who lives near Penrith, will work with tenants, industry experts and partners to develop long-term solutions on issues ranging from financial viability to climate change.

He said: “Working with our tenant farmers, we want farms and farming to stand out for the great public benefits they bring, including nature, beauty and history for everyone for ever.

“Farmers should be recognised for their hard work and innovation in delivering this delicate balance, whilst running successful farm businesses.

“Over the next five years we will be investing in our farmhouses and infrastructure, strengthening relationships, supporting new entrants and helping to create opportunities for farm business diversification.

“Ultimately, it’s about viable farms producing good food, where nature flourishes, soils are healthier and the land is more robust in the face of climate change, all the while sustaining the globally significant attributes that make the Lake District a World Heritage Site.”

Mr Westgarth has held national and local roles with the EA, including responsibilities in Cumbria and Lancashire. He was most recently involved with Defra on their 25 Year Environment Plan and Environmental Land Management Scheme test and trials.

He now takes a key role at the National Trust, which owns a fifth of the Lake District National Park, and 14 farms which once belonged to world famous author and conservationist Beatrix Potter.

“We know it is tough right now for the farming community, with still much uncertainty about the future, but there will be opportunities for farmers. We have also been heartened by new people coming forward to take on our farms with six re-let in the last year.”

There is an invitation to meet Jez Westgarth and to hear more about the Trust’s future farming plans at a free event hosted by the National Trust on Thursday, February 27 in the Fairfield Restaurant at Cockermouth Auction starting at 7pm.

Anyone interested in attending should email