The UK red meat industry has signed up to the creation of an environmental roadmap, designed to decrease the sector's impact on the environment.

Stakeholders - including the National Farmers' Union, the British Meat Processors Association, British Retail Consortium, English Beef and Lamb Executive, National Pig Association and the British Pig Executive - have agreed to produce a first-draft roadmap by the autumn of 2009.

The roadmap will identify common areas of improvement within the sector and develop strategies that can be applied through existing programmes such as the beef and lamb Better Returns programmes.

The NFU said that the initiative would help the industry counter the increasing criticism levelled at it over the adverse environmental impact of red meat production.

"By being proactive like this, it will help us to be ahead of any regulation which may be around the corner with the added bonus that it will be good for business," NFU Livestock Board chair Alistair Mackintosh, said.

"As meat producers we take our environmental responsibilities seriously. We must, as a whole supply chain, work together to ensure our production is sustainable."