The Environment Secretary has said he wants to make it easier for farmers to diversify after concerns were raised by TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

Steve Barclay told MPs he is in “very advanced discussions” with Communities Secretary Michael Gove on extending permitted development rights, which allow certain changes to take place without having to make a planning application.

Prime Video show Clarkson’s Farm has documented the workings of his 1,000-acre holding in the Cotswolds, including his dealings with council officials over his expansion of the business to include a restaurant.

An order for the closure of the restaurant was made after two planning applications were rejected by West Oxfordshire District Council.

The Northern Farmer: New Environment Secretary Steve Barclay

The former Top Gear presenter’s Diddly Squat farm shop has also proved popular with customers.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Barclay said: “My focus and the farming minster’s focus is on food production and food security, and ensuring that is viable for our farmers.

“But diversification is also an important part, so I’m in very advanced discussions with (Mr Gove) on extending permitted development rights… to go back to the previous question, that a certain very famous farmer has raised in terms of his frustrations in Oxfordshire.

“So I want to streamline permitted developments and make it easier for farmers to diversify, but, first and foremost, farmers want to produce food and that is my key focus.”

The Northern Farmer: Jeremy Clarkson at Diddly Squat Farm

Labour MP Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) had questioned if Mr Barclay had spoken to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) or the “celebrity farmer”, who he later revealed was Clarkson.

He added: “Farmers don’t know where they’re going or how they’re going to face the future because there is no plan under this incompetent administration.”

Mr Barclay said he regularly engages with colleagues in the NFU.

The minister also said sustainable farming incentive (SFI) payments need to be accelerated so farmers are paid quickly.

Mr Barclay said: “I have been very clear with the Royal Payments Agency (RPA) we need a more trusting relationship in terms of payments, we need to accelerate those payments so they’re paid more quickly.

“To be fair to the RPA, one of the constraints sometimes is National Audit Office rules around the element of checks that they need in terms of the error rate, but we’re working with them as to how we can shift the relationship to one built more on trust and where payments go out in a more expedited fashion.”

His comments came in response to Liberal Democrat MP Helen Morgan (North Shropshire), who said: “One of the concerns that farmers have raised with the sustainable farming incentive is the fact that they have to pay money up front before they can receive compensation or claim that money from the Government.”