The cost of fixed rate borrowing has fallen back recently offering an opportunity for some AMC borrowers to switch from variable rates. The Bank of England base rate for variable loans remains at 0.5%; on Tuesday 6th October the cost of 10 year repayment money stood at 1.43%. In addition AMC will continue to charge their agreed margin to each customer. If you would like to discuss further please contact Mark Webb.
Congratulations to Mark Webb, who on 30th September 2015 celebrated his 30 year work anniversary, having started working for Loveday and Loveday from 1985, before he took over alongside George Paton to become WebbPaton in 1999. Here’s to the next 30!
The Department of Energy and Climate Change are tendering out to investors four Ordnance Survey Grid Squares around Wiltshire for fracking opportunities in the next bidding round. The four areas are around Devizes, Melksham, Trowbridge and Radstock. WebbPaton are ready to help their clients on fracking and oil / gas exploration matters.
With the Government moving renewable subsidies away from wind and solar we are seeing renewable developers approaching clients on 2nd generation renewable technologies these focus on STOR, Gas to Grid AD Plants, Battery Storage, and large bio digesters. These technologies are less land hungry than solar farms but the returns are still very attractive. The solar farms now look as if they will all have to be built in a subsidy free world from 1st April 2016, this means only solar farms which are able to export their electricity to a neighbouring factory with a massive electricity consumption will be built. This so called private wiring means that the wholesale electricity price which is typically 4.2 to 5.2 pence per kilowatt hour can be sold at retail prices of 7 to 10 pence per kilowatt hour. Contact George Paton for advice on renewable energy opportunities.
There have been several changes and additions to residential lettings legislation this Autumn:
- The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations – Landlords are required to ensure that a smoke alarm is installed and in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy on each storey of the dwelling. Landlords are also required to provide a working carbon monoxide alarm in any room which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance (i.e. open fires/wood burning stoves).
- ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ – this Government guidance must be provided to new Tenants by the Landlord, otherwise a s.21 notice may not be served if the Landlord wishes to terminate the tenancy.
- Energy Performance Certificates – properties with an energy efficiency in Bands F and G will no longer be permitted to be let from April 2018, so Landlords may wish to start works to improve the energy efficiency of dwellings which will be re-let in the future.
Please speak to Libby Barron or Gemma Drewett for advice in relation to the new lettings legislation.
From 1st January 2015 Defra extended their cross compliance approach to include most types of TB tests, including enhanced cross compliance controls for overdue TB surveillance and check tests. Penalties are applied to Basic Payment and any Rural Development Scheme payments (e.g. ELS) for late tests and are based on a percentage of the payments (usually 1-5%, depending on the severity). WebbPaton have heard reports of tests being carried out within the deadline, but results being sent after the due date to the Animal and Plant Health Agency, resulting in cross compliance penalties. Please ensure that your TB tests are carried out and sent in advance of the due date. For any cross compliance breaches, please contact WebbPaton and we will advise and guide you through the appeals process.
The 2015 BPS Euro exchange rate has been taken from the average of the European Central Bank exchange rates set throughout September 2015 and has been set at €1 = £0.73129. (This is lower than last year’s more favourable exchange rate of €1 = £0.77730.)
Visit us at the South West Dairy Show on 7th October 2015. Our stand is in the usual place by the door, number 128 in the Edmund Rack Pavilion. Mark Webb and George Paton will be on hand together with our other professional staff to offer you refreshments, and available to discuss any farm business matters of concern to you. The big issues currently are renewables, Basic Payment Scheme, land development, compensation claims, valuations, rural property and tenancy options – or just come and have a cup of tea.
Catherine Elmes will also be present to offer advice regarding farm waste recycling and FarmXS, so if you think the scheme is for you or to find out more, just stop by and have a chat with her.
WebbPaton offer professional advice to the rural areas of Wiltshire, south Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Somerset.
The South West Dairy Show has become one of the most important dates in the dairy farmer’s calendar, combining a comprehensive trade show with an exhibition of top quality dairy cattle. The show attracts over 300 trade stands from across the country and beyond and with over 250 cattle this show is the place to be seen and visit.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The RPA were requesting details of “accountable persons” earlier this year in order to process and issue payments for 2015 BPS claims. However, they have now confirmed that this information (your National Insurance number and the division between partners/shareholders) will not be required until next year.
Due to the recent wet weather, you may have difficulties establishing EFA catch crops by 31st August. Provided the RPA has not notified you of an issue or an inspection, you should be able to amend areas of catch crops to change them to EFA cover crops without penalty. Cover crops must be established by 1st October and retained until at least 15th January 2016, but the other rules are the same. Please contact us if you need to make an amendment to your BPS application.
We understand the RPA are starting to send confirmation notifications by email for the 2015 BPS entitlement transfers this week and plan to complete the process by the end of September. If you have sold or purchased entitlements through WebbPaton please forward the email to us [email@example.com], we will pay the seller and issue the VAT receipt (if applicable) to the buyer once we have the confirmation in writing. If you have any questions, please contact Susan Elmes or Libby Barron.
Natural England have announced that there will be a delay to the advance payments for Environmental Stewardship (ELS, OELS & HLS) agreements this year because of the ongoing processing of annual claims and cross-checking against BPS claims. Payments will start in October 2015 and the majority should be made during November and December.
If at least 80% of the agricultural area of your holding is grass, you can apply for an NVZ grassland derogation which gives you permission to use a higher limit of up to 250kg of nitrogen per hectare, if the nitrogen comes from grazing livestock manure. You must apply between 1st October and 31st December this year for a 2016 derogation. Please contact Cathy Hancock-Angell if you would like help with applying for a derogation.
If you are interested in applying to enter the Mid Tier of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme, you will need to order an application pack and act fast, as the deadline for applications is 30th September 2015 for a start date of 1st January 2016.
[The next available start date is not until 1st January 2017, if you miss this deadline.]
You are only eligible to enter the Scheme if there is not an existing Stewardship agreement over the land, or the current agreement expires before 1st January 2016.
The WebbPaton Team has attended various training events so that we have the inside knowledge and expertise to get you through the application process and ensure you have the best possible chance of securing an agreement. The Mid Tier application process is highly competitive and in order to improve your chance of success, WebbPaton have been reviewing all of the local ‘Statement of Priorities’ documents and will guide you through improving your application score. Please contact us if you would like help with your Mid Tier application.
Natural England are writing to farmers to ask for clarification of the location of 2015/16 overwintered stubbles, as their Annual Claim Forms asked for the 2014/15 location only. Agreement holders are being asked to confirm the 2015/16 location by 1st September 2015, so that Natural England are able to process payments.
Natural England have indicated that they may be flexible if notifications are received after 1st September, but WebbPaton are recommending that farmers reply as soon as possible to prevent delayed payments.
Fancy the challenge of Hackpen Hill? You will have an opportunity to run or walk completely off-road on a hilly, mixed trail across Weir Farm (Broad Hinton), in an area of outstanding natural beauty. With uninterrupted views of the Ridgeway and Barbury Castle this is a special charity run in memory of Gill Hussey of Weir Farm. Goody bag and refreshments for every finisher. Children with an adult and dogs on leads are welcome to walk. Entry fee: £10.00 per adult.
For more information about the event, check the Facebook Page ‘Hackpen Hill 10K Trail’ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All profits will go to the local hospital’s Brighter Futures Radiotherapy Appeal. To sign up, go to: http://www.entrycentral.com/event/103973
If you would like to be considered for the new Higher Tier of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, you will have to act quickly, as an ‘Expression of Interest Form’ needs to be returned to Natural England by 15th July 2015.
The Mid Tier of the Countryside Stewardship scheme was due to open on 1st July, but there has been a delay and we are expecting the application form to be available from mid-July, with an application deadline of 30th September 2015. Applications will be scored by Natural England according to priorities for your area and there is no guarantee that you will be offered an agreement. The WebbPaton Team are attending various training events over the next few weeks so that we are able to put together highly competitive applications for farmers, so if you are interested in applying please contact Cathy Hancock-Angell or Gemma Drewett.
Many tenant farmers are now considering whether it is worth serving a Notice for rent review before Michaelmas this year to trigger a rent review next year. There are inevitably risks associated with serving a Notice if the market improves over the next year and the level of rent will depend on the terms of your tenancy agreement, so please talk to Mark Webb, George Paton or Harriet Ruffle for expert advice before taking any action.
WebbPaton are recommending that every landowner should put a 20 year deposit in place with their local council to prevent future rights of way or village green claims across their land. A deposit could save you significant costs and time in preventing future disputes. WebbPaton are busy preparing the CA16 application forms and maps for clients, so if you would like your land to be protected, please contact Gemma Drewett or Libby Barron.
Applicants are now invited to submit an ‘Expression of Interest’ Form to apply for LEADER funding (for grants from £5,000 to £50,000 per applicant).
The LEADER funding is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs), with individual objectives but all projects must support one or more of the 6 LEADER priorities, as follows:
- support micro and small businesses and farm diversification
- boost rural tourism
- increase farm productivity
- increase forestry productivity
- provide rural services
- provide cultural and heritage activities
The main LAGs in this area are ‘The Vale Action’ (covering The Cotswold Water Park down to Trowbridge), the ‘North Wessex Downs LEADER’ (covering the North Wessex Downs AONB), ‘The Plain Action’ (covering Salisbury Plain and the surrounding villages and market towns) and ‘Southern Oxfordshire LEADER’ (boundary to be confirmed).
Please contact Harriet Ruffle if you are interested in applying for a LEADER grant.
Farmers are able to apply to the RPA for a derogation from the Cross Compliance hedge cutting ban which runs until 31st August if they are drilling oilseed rape or temporary grass adjacent to a hedge. Please contact Cathy Hancock-Angell or Becky Meredith if you need help applying for the derogation.