FARMERS and landowners along the route of the Tour de France Grand Depart have been urged to consider how it might affect them.

Those with land in agri-environment schemes, countryside stewardship agreements, or sites of special scientific interests, may need to apply for special derogations.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has worked closely with Natural England to help farmers and landowners prepare for the event when it comes to the Dales in July.

But, so far, only a handful of farmers have contacted Natural England causing fears that many are still not fully aware of the extent to which they could be affected by the event.

Dorothy Fairburn, CLA North regional director, said: “These derogations will allow members to set up temporary facilities such as campsites, car parks and toilets but, more importantly, they will also allow changes to land management regimes, such as grass-cutting dates, to allow more flexibility.

“Farmers with fields close to the route and a cutting date soon after the event, for example, should consider applying for a derogation if they are concerned about spectators trampling on the field, leaving them unable to cut at the agreed time.

“We have been surprised by how few farmers have taken advantage of this and are concerned there is still a general lack of awareness about how much disruption and also potential for new business the event will create.”

Farmers and landowners are urged to contact their local Natural England adviser who will discuss proposals on a site-by-site basis with a view to helping all reasonable requests where possible.

Natural England has produced a fact sheet for farmers and landowners in stewardship schemes explaining how to apply for derogations. It is available at north/TDFfactsheet or on 01748- 907070.