CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON THE UK’S LARGEST SOLAR FARM AT DIDCOT

Work has commenced on the UK’s largest solar farm at Didcot in Oxfordshire. INRG Solar obtained planning on the 41MW power plant, which will power over 10,000 households. WebbPaton’s George Paton acted as Land Agent for the farming landowner.

This solar farm will be up and running in early 2014 and will be managed as natural pasture land grazed by sheep to encourage a diversity of flora and fauna. INRG were the developer, with Belectric the long term site Tenant.

CAP REFORM POLICY FINALLY ADOPTED BY THE EU

CAP Reform / Single Payment – the EU Council of Ministers finally adopted the legal text of the CAP Reform which is due to start in 2015 on 16th December 2013. For details please contact WebbPaton.

“MORE HOUSES NEEDED” SAY SWINDON AND WILTSHIRE PLANNING INSPECTORS

Both Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council have heard planning inspectors examining their draft Local Plan / Core Strategy state that they need provision for more dwelllings. Last week the Wiltshire Core Strategy planning inspector wrote to Wiltshire implying that Wiltshire needs to find sites for a further 7,000 dwellings. Earlier this month the Swindon Borough Council Local plan inspector suggested they were 6,000 dwellings short.

George Paton, Development Land Partner at WebbPaton is pleased to advise any landowners approached by a developer, or to look at any farmers’ land to see if it is suitable for any form of development

WEBBPATON SOLAR FARM UPDATE

WebbPaton are pleased to announce that as of 17th January 2014 WebbPaton have acted for the farming clients / landowners on 141 megawatts of solar farm land which is either built or under build.

This equates to approximately £141 million pounds worth of investment in solar pv panels in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. WebbPaton are very pleased to have acted as land Agents alongside Thrings Solicitors for the landowners of the UK’s largest solar development in build as of today at Landmead Farm, East Hanney, near Didcot, Oxfordshire.

WEBBPATON LAND AGENTS BEHIND THE BIGGEST SOLAR FARM IN THE UK PLANNING CONSENT

WebbPaton are pleased to announce that planning permission has been granted by the Vale of White Horse District Council on a 41 megawatt solar farm, set within over 203 acres of land.  We believe this solar park at East Hanney in Oxfordshire is the largest solar park to obtain plannning permission in the UK.

WebbPaton acted for the land owners in negotiating the Heads of Terms for this solar farm and negotiated with the solar park financiers a robust Clear Up Bond to enable the land to be returned to agriculture when the Lease ends.  Work has started this week building this solar pv site.

SOLAR AND RENEWABLE HEADS OF TERMS

George Paton of WebbPaton will be talking about solar farms and the Heads of Terms that farmers should be obtaining at two talks in November. On 21st November at the CAAV Midlands Seminars at Crick and on 25th November at the Orion Farming Groups Annual Conference at Abingdon. This follows on from George being one of the guests as a renewables specilaist on BBC Radio Oxford’s Sunday Morning debate last week.

NVZ GRASSLAND DEROGATIONS

The application window for 2014 NVZ Grassland Derogations opened on 1st October and will close on 31st December 2013. If you farm grazing livestock and at least 80 per cent of your land is grassland, you may be eligible for a derogation from the livestock manure N farm limit. The derogation permits the total loading in livestock manure to increase from 170kg N/ha to 250kg N/ha. For more information, please contact Gemma Drewett or Charlotte Pearson-Wood.

ENTITLEMENTS TRADING

On the basis of DEFRA’s recent confirmation that SPS entitlements will be rolled forward into the next Scheme (and therefore valid for a further 7 years), we are now trading at £300/ha for entitlements with VAT and £330/ha with no VAT. Please contact Susan Elmes if you would like to buy or sell SPS entitlements.

SINGLE PAYMENT SCHEME 2013 EXCHANGE RATE SET

The 2013 SPS Euro exchange rate has been set at €1 = £0.83605. [The 2012 rate was €1 = £0.79805.] However, to balance the EU budget, it is expected that DEFRA will be required to apply a 4% financial discipline reduction to Single Payment claims over €2,000, which will offset the favourable exchange rate.

DON’T WASTE BONFIRE NIGHT!

What are you burning on your bonfire on 5th November? Have fun but remember you should not be burning plastic, treated wood or cardboard – the Environment Agency inspectors are watching! WebbPaton’s sister company Farm XS collects across most of England and recycles farm plastic and paper. For more details about this farmer friendly and practical recycling scheme speak to Catherine Elmes on 08455 190180.

DEFRA’S CAP REFORM CONSULTATION NOW OPEN – HAVE YOUR SAY!

DEFRA’S Consultation on the ‘Implementation of CAP Reform in England’ is now open until 28th November 2013. The main points of interest and preliminary decisions outlined in the consultation are as follows:

• Single Payment Scheme (SPS) entitlements will be rolled forward into the new scheme.
• The minimum claim size will be fixed at 5 ha (12.35 acres).
• A Small Farmers Scheme will not be implemented in England.
• DEFRA will adhere to the measures set out in the European Commission’s proposals for greening requirements i.e. crop diversification, the maintenance of permanent grassland and Ecological Focus Areas on 5% of arable land.
• The existing regional boundaries will remain in place.
• Payments linked to ANCs (Areas facing Natural Constraints) will not be introduced.
• Salary mitigation will not be implemented i.e. spending on agricultural wages will not be protected from reductions.
• A coupled support scheme will not be introduced in England i.e. farmers will continue to have no obligation to produce and will be free to respond to market signals.

Farmers are encouraged to reply to the consultation to influence the outcome of the implementation – please click on the link https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/common-agricultural-policy-reform-implementation-in-england to visit the consultation page. If you would like advice on how any of these proposals might affect your farming business, please contact us at WebbPaton.

GRAZING & MOWING LAND AVAILABLE NEAR WROUGHTON

pproximately 85 acres of grazing and mowing land near Wroughton available on a short-term arrangement immediately.  The land does not currently have stockproof fencing and therefore temporary fencing will need to be supplied by the grazier.  For more information, please contact Gemma Drewett or Charlotte Pearson-Wood on 01793 842055.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

Following the recent CAP Reform Agreement, it now seems very unlikely that there will be a replacement scheme equivalent to Entry Level Stewardship (ELS).  Therefore, if you wish to enter the ELS Scheme and claim an additional £30/ha per annum before it closes, an application to Natural England must be submitted by 31st August 2013.
 
There will however be provisions for ‘high priority cases’ (e.g. expiring Countryside Stewardship agreements, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, SSSIs) to enter new Environmental Stewardship agreements during 2014.  New Uplands ELS and Organic ELS agreements will also continue to be available in 2014.
If you are interested in entering into an ELS Agreement before the deadline next month, please contact WebbPaton as soon as possible.

THE NEW CAP REFORM AGREEMENT – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER AT THIS STAGE?

The CAP Reform Agreement has finally been reached but, until the Autumn when we should hear how DEFRA plan to implement the new CAP Package, there will be a lot of speculation and very few facts farmers can rely on.  WebbPaton has summarised the main points we think you should consider at this stage:
·         You may wish to think ahead when planning your crop rotations this Autumn, as the new Scheme will probably require ‘crop diversification’ – at least three crops to be grown (and the main crop to be no more than 75%) where more than 30 hectares of arable land is farmed [and at least two crops where between 10-30 hectares of arable land is farmed].
·         It is possible that DEFRA may roll over the current SPS entitlements into the new Basic Payment Scheme.
·         To claim under the Basic Payment Scheme a farmer will need to have made a successful SPS application in 2013 (otherwise further evidence of farming activity will be required).  Therefore, do not change your business structure, business name or the parties linked to your SBI without taking professional advice first.  N.B. You should always take professional advice before notifying the RPA of a death or any other business change.

CAP REFORM UPDATE

The Council and European Parliament reached final political agreement on the outstanding Multiannual Financial Framework issues on 24th September 2013.  Therefore DEFRA can now move forward in planning the implementation of the CAP Regulations and it is anticipated that a consultation will be released during the second week of October.
WebbPaton will keep farmers informed of all the latest CAP Reform news through our Farmers Update emails.  If you would like to receive our Farmers Update emails, please contact us on 01793 842055 and provide your email address.

BEWARE OF THE DUAL USE LETTERS…

The RPA, Natural England and the Forestry Commission are continuing to send out letters to claimants where they believe there is a dual use situation in place (i.e. where one party is claiming under the SPS and another is claiming under environmental or woodland schemes).  If you receive a letter, please contact us for professional advice BEFORE replying and providing evidence, as the penalties for breaching the scheme rules are substantial.

HAVE YOU SETTLED YOUR RENT REVIEW?

With the 29th September only a few days away, WebbPaton have been busy helping clients to settle their rent reviews before the Michaelmas deadline.  It’s not too late to take advice, so please contact Mark Webb or Gemma Drewett on 01793 842055 if you need help.

LAND WANTED

WebbPaton have some retained clients who are looking to purchase land, with the following requirements:
·        100 acres of pasture land (with or without buildings) in Wiltshire or Oxfordshire.
·         75 – 250 acres of bare arable land in Oxfordshire or Wiltshire.
·         Suitable single building plots in edge of village locations.
We also have a number of clients who are looking for both arable and pasture land to let.  Please contact George Paton on 01793 842055 if you are interested in selling or letting your land.

NEW MICRO WIND OPPORTUNITIES

There is a new micro wind market developing for small wind turbines (up to 100 KW).  Farmers are being made offers to rent small parcels of land (e.g. a disused telecoms site) for a minimum rent of £20,000 per annum plus a percentage of harvesting.  Suitable sites are open areas away from AONBs and airport radars.  Please contact George Paton on 01793 842055 for more information.

LAST CHANCE TO ENTER THE ENTRY LEVEL STEWARDSHIP (ELS) SCHEME

The current Environmental Stewardship Schemes will close at the end of this year, with the last agreements being issued on 1st December 2013.
Therefore, this will be your last chance to claim the additional £30/ha per annum for ELS agreements for the five year agreement period.
The deadline for applications is 1st September 2013, so if you are interested in joining the Scheme or your current agreement is coming to an end, please contact WebbPaton as soon as possible.


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