At last the news we have been waiting for. The government has announced a new Agriculture Bill which shines a light on its intentions regards post-Brexit change. Whilst it is anticipated that Basic Payments will continue at the same level in 2019 and 2020 (with some simplifications), there will be a period of phasing out between 2021 and 2027 during which time some of the money will be directed towards efficiency and production grants.
With an air of positivity Environment Secretary Michael Gove envisages a brighter future in farming, enabling the delivery of a Green Brexit to reward farmers for environmental work. He recognised that farmers require a gradual transition to allow them to plan ahead, as they will in future be paid for improvements to air, water, soil health, animal welfare standards, public access and flood reduction.
A new Environmental Land Management Scheme will be introduced. It will be trialled in 2019. It is anticipated that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme will continue to be open for applications in 2019 and 2020.
WebbPaton are pleased to announce that they have successful sold on behalf of landowning farming clients and Promoters Welbeck Land a 515 dwelling residential development site with outline planning permission. This site in Shrivenham Wiltshire has been sold to Legal and General Homes and Communities Ltd. WebbPaton’s George Paton has overseen this development from when there was no allocation for anything other than farmland to successfully obtaining outline planning permission for a 200 dwellings scheme and then a 315 dwellings scheme. The site adjoins the A420 on the Swindon to Oxford Road. L&G Homes and Communities Ltd will commence building in late 2018.
This development is one of 5 other residential sites sold in the last few months for local farmers by WebbPaton. The other sites being:
- 200 dwellings at Faringdon sold to Bellway.
- 116 dwellings at Shrivenham sold to Bovis.
- 96 dwellings at Steventon sold to Linden.
- 87 dwellings at Blunsdon sold to Linden.
- 42 dwellings at Shrivenham sold to Persimmon.
- 350 dwellings at Blunsdon sold to Redrow and Linden.
- 21 dwellings at Calne sold to Backhouse.
- 1 dwelling being a Class Q permitted development from agriculture to residential at Purton sold to a private buyer.
- 1 dwelling being a Class Q permitted development from agriculture to residential in Nottinghamshire sold to a private buyer.
- 75 dwelling at Pershore, Worcestershire sold subject to contract.
WebbPaton are currently about to market the following residential sites with planning:
- 4 dwellings at Lydiard Millicent.
- 370 dwellings at Wanborough.
- 350 dwellings at Thornbury.
If you have a farmland and you feel it may be suited to have houses built on it and need professional advice contact WebbPaton Residential Development team who will be very pleased to assist.
BBC Radio Wiltshire are holding a discussion on Rhiannon Fitz-Gerald’s programme Wild About Wiltshire this coming Sunday 25th March at 12.00 about how life may turn out for farmers and farming after we leave the EU. The panel includes farmer and local councillor James Sheppard and Mark Webb of WebbPaton Rural and Commercial Surveyors and Land Agents.
The programme will be available afterwards on the BBC iPlayer Radio.
Thinking of buying some new kit? In need of cattle equipment, handling systems, a new vacuum pump? Badger-proof feed troughs, cow brush, electric scraper, GPS and more?
Farmers wishing to invest to improve animal welfare and farm efficiency might be eligible for some RDPE small grant funding that’s just been announced, which is available from £3,000 up to £12,000 at a 40% grant rate.
This is a one stage online application. You will need your SBI & CPH numbers, stock and number of employees then once submitted the RPA will assess the applications as the resources are limited to £60 million. If your grant is approved you will have 150 days to purchase your equipment.
Contact George King at WebbbPaton (or your usual agent) if you need any help to apply – the deadline is 14th March 2018 – on 01793 842055.
A briefing paper was issued yesterday ahead of the debate held in Westminster Hall on the policy framework for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU. The full report is available online:
UK agriculture, post-Brexit and, post transition, will be operating outside of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) under any scenario.
The key questions around a new UK agriculture policy are therefore:
- How will the UK diverge from the CAP and in what way?
- How much financial support will the UK Government continue to offer and how will it be allocated across the UK?
- How will UK agriculture be managed across the devolved nations?
The UK Government has pledged to maintain the same cash funds as currently for CAP until the end of the Parliament, under the expectation that this will be 2022. It has also indicated that it is unlikely to move to any new system of farm support until after 2024.Proposals will be set out in a Command Paper later this spring – a pre-cursor to the Agriculture Bill (expected in this session) which will set out post-Brexit support arrangements for farmers.
The key elements of the emerging new policy for England (to be consulted on) are:
- The UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (January 2018) set out how a new environmental land management system based on providing public money for public goods (such as habitat enhancement) is proposed to replace current direct payments to farmers in England.
- Currently, CAP subsidies can make up anywhere from 50-80% of a UK farmer’s income and their practices will be sensitive to fluctuations in support or a change of direction or priorities in this support.
- The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) (direct subsidies by area farmed) for 2019 will be paid as normal.
A five-year transition phase from farming subsidy to a system of public money for public goods over time whilst limiting some of the largest subsidy payments.
No lower standards for animal welfare or environment in trade deals and a new approach to food labelling with a new “world leading” standard for food and farming quality.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has also said he is:
- confident of “building a new economic partnership with the EU” that guarantees tariff-free access for agri-food goods between the UK and EU.
- seeking a flexible migration policy overall and post-Brexit wants to ensure “access to seasonal agricultural labour”.
Farming unions and environmental groups have broadly welcomed the initial proposals. Farming unions want any new farm support system to be part of a coherent approach to food production with domestic agriculture policy post-Brexit helping farmers to mitigate volatility and enhance productivity as well as delivering environmental benefits. Environmental groups want to see current funding for farmers maintained to support sustainable land management.
Some information on this subject can be found in the Secretary of State’s speech on the future of the UK farming industry at the Oxford Farming Conference on 4 January 2018, in the Government’s 25 year environment plan, and in section 4.9 on Agriculture and land management in the Commons Library’s briefing paper on the 25 year plan.
The window for BPS applications 2018 is due to open shortly and will close again on 15th May 2018. There have been a number of changes to greening rules for 2018 and the RPA have been carrying out mapping updates for all applicants over the last few months, these will need to be checked before the 2018 claim is submitted. If WebbPaton have not previously been involved with your BPS application, and you would like our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Harriet Ruffle at WebbPaton.
The Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship application window is due to open shortly for agreements to start on 1st January 2019. We anticipate the deadline for applications will be earlier than previous years, probably 31st July 2018. Natural England have introduced four new streamlined packages for 2018. The packages are a pre-selected range of options for arable, lowland grazing, upland and mixed farming systems, with a simplified application form, revised evidence requirements and no competitive element. These four packages will be offered alongside the standard Mid-Tier agreements.
If you are interested in applying for Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship please contact one of our team at WebbPaton who will be happy to help.
New farming rules for water come into force from April 2018. There are eight rules, five about managing fertilisers and manures and three on managing soils. The fertiliser rules require farmers to test their soils, then plan and apply their fertiliser or manure to improve soil nutrient levels and meet crop needs. They include minimum storage and spreading distances from water bodies. They also require the farmer to assess weather and soil conditions to reduce the risk of runoff and soil erosion. The remaining rules require farmers to manage livestock by protecting land within five metres of water and reducing livestock poaching.
The majority of the rules are already covered within existing regulations and cross compliance requirements, but there is a new requirement to test soils on cultivated land every five years. If you would like any more information please do not hesitate to contact one of our team at WebbPaton who will be happy to help.
The RDPE Countryside Productivity Scheme provides funding for projects in England which improve productivity in the farming and forestry sectors. Under the RDPE Countryside Productivity Scheme, there are grants for:
- water resource management and reservoirs
- improving forestry productivity
- adding value to Agri-foods
- improving farm productivity
If you are interested in applying for any of the grants under the RDPE Countryside Productivity Scheme please contact George King at WebbPaton.
WebbPaton have sold a 515 dwelling residential development site to Legal and General Homes. This 78-acre site in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire was sold by WebbPaton for two landowning clients who entered into a Promotional Agreement with Welbeck Strategic Land. The development had outline planning for 515 new homes. It represents the third major site being brought forward by Legal & General Homes, bringing its housing pipeline to over 3,000 new homes. Construction for the first phase of new homes is due to start at the end of next year. The site is large enough to provide a full range of housing options, from one-bed apartments to four-bed detached family homes.
180 of the homes will be much-needed affordable housing and Legal & General will look to use modular construction from its factory in Leeds for this element of the site. By using traditional building techniques alongside modular construction, the team will be able to accelerate delivery on the ground. Legal & General has been involved in housing activities for nearly 20 years. It is committed to addressing the UK’s chronic housing shortage through delivering high-quality sustainable and enduring homes with plans in place to build more than 80,000 new homes over the next five to ten years.
James Lidgate, CEO of Legal & General Homes, commented: “As well as addressing the chronic shortfall of housing in the UK, Legal & General Homes is looking to regenerate the UK’s landscape for the better and build vibrant communities where people want to live, such as this sought after location in Oxfordshire. Using Legal & General’s long term capital, we are seeking to create a legacy that we are proud of. To do this, we want to challenge public perceptions of new homes by delivering a product that surpasses buildings of the past in terms of quality, efficiency and comfort, while ensuring the homes are carefully integrated into the community, providing much enhanced public realm, facilities and infrastructure.”
Alistair Watson, Senior Partner of Welbeck Strategic Land commented: “We are delighted to have secured a planning consent on behalf of the landowners and to have concluded a sale to Legal and General Homes and jointly with Legal and General Homes to have contributed towards delivering homes to alleviate the current housing shortage.”
George Paton of WebbPaton commented “This is WebbPaton’s 5th major residential development site sale in the last 12 months which include selling 200 dwellings at Faringdon, 350 dwellings at Blunsdon, 116 dwellings at Shrivenham, 112 dwellings at Steventon and 87 dwellings at Swindon. We have acted for the two landowners throughout from when the land had no planning chance all the way through planning. This sale shows the benefit of landowners entering into a Promotional Agreement rather than an Option Agreement. We are always happy to act for any landowner who needs advice on how to promote their land for residential development. Now is a good time to bring forward land as the Swindon and the Wiltshire Local Plan Reviews are now underway.”
WebbPaton have postponed our annual round of seminars in late January/early February. The main topic of interest currently is the future of farming policy post Brexit, which is largely unknown. It has been confirmed that BPS 2019 will be on the same basis as now and there will be a five year transition period post-BPS 2019, which would see BPS remaining until 2024 but with the introduction of a cap on larger payments. We are planning to rearrange our annual seminars at a later date as soon as there is some more clarity as to the way forward, meanwhile the team at WebbPaton will keep abreast of the latest developments and share this knowledge with individual clients as and when we meet.
The application window for the Woodland Creation Grant is now open. These are two-year capital grants of up to £6,800 per hectare, with the opportunity to apply for ten-year annual maintenance payments. Applications must be submitted by 16th February 2018. If you are interested in applying for the Woodland Creation Grant please contact Libby Barron at WebbPaton.
The Countryside Stewardship Scheme will be open for applications again in 2018 with the first focus being on the expanded Hedgerow and Boundaries Grant. The maximum spend for improvements to hedgerows, stone walls, etc on any one farm has been increased from £5,000 to £10,000 with applications to be submitted by 30th April. If you are interested in this grant please email Becky Meredith on firstname.lastname@example.org before commencing the work. Alternatively you can ring Becky (or speak to whoever is your normal contact at WebbPaton if you are an existing client) on 01793 842055.
WebbPaton are delighted to announce that Becky Meredith has recently passed the RICS exams and also exams for the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) with flying colours and is now a Fellow of the Association. This professional qualification denotes an in-depth knowledge of a wide range of countryside & property matters. Becky joins others in our team who have achieved this mark of excellence enabling us to provide well-informed advice to our clients. Her specialisms include Basic Payment Scheme claims, Countryside Stewardship (including Hedgerow & Boundaries Grants), and rural property valuations.
WebbPaton have received instructions to sell Basic Payment Scheme entitlements which have been placed on our website. The Rural Payments Agency will open the online transfer system in February, but meanwhile we are happy to discuss your requirements and take offers from potential buyers or to help you make an informed choice with your business decision-making.
Contact us by email or telephone – email@example.com or 01793 842055.
Mark Webb and George Paton are delighted to welcome George King to the professional team at WebbPaton.
George, 22, grew up on a livestock farm in Leicestershire and completed his BSc (Hons) degree in Rural Land Management at The Royal Agricultural University in 2016. Following graduation George pursued a career in Land Management at Carter Jonas for a year before joining WebbPaton in August 2017 as a Graduate Agricultural Valuer. George will be working towards taking his CAAV exams and Royal Institute of Rural Surveyors exam in the autumn of 2018.
In his spare time George enjoys skiing, shooting, playing tennis and partaking in Tough Mudder events.
The European Commission has published updated greening rules which will come into effect from 1 January 2018 and logically affects cropping for this autumn. The main changes to the 2018 greening rules are as follows:
- A complete ban on the use of Plant Protection Products on Ecological Focus Area (EFA) Fallow Land, EFA Catch and Cover Crops, and EFA Nitrogen-fixing Crops is introduced. The ban applies from the time of sowing the crop, even if this is before 1 January 2018, to harvesting. The ban also applies to seed dressings.
- EFA catch crops must be maintained for a minimum of 8 weeks starting on 20 August 2018 and must be retained until at least 14 October 2018. The period for EFA cover crops remains at 1 October to 15 January of the following year.
- As part of crop diversification, you can declare an area as ‘mixed crops’ that contains small areas of different crops grown next to each other. Individually these would otherwise be too small to claim (these are areas less than 0.01ha) but can be claimed as one ‘mixed crop’ area.
- The EFA option for hedges is extended in definition to include trees in a line. The EFA value will remain the same – each metre of length equals 10 square metres of area for EFA (as long as if you claim this option you have management responsibility for both sides of the hedge and/or line of trees).
- The EFA buffer strips option is extended in definition to include field margins as well as buffer strips. In addition to buffer strips adjacent or parallel with a water course, you can also claim field margins towards your EFA. The minimum width of 1 metre remains. The EFA value of field margins will be the same as EFA buffer strips – every metre in length equals 9 square metres of area for EFA.
If you would like to discuss any of the changes to greening requirements further please do not hesitate to contact one of our team at WebbPaton.
Trading has started on Basic Payments for 2017. WebbPaton buy and sell BPS entitlements. For more information and latest prices call Susan Elmes on 01793 842055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also provide cross compliance and BP5 advice, so if you’re busy and need some help give us a call on the same number to explore how we can assist.