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4 | Rural Outlook Issue 21
Agriculture | 5
More on ELMS
The much-heralded Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), designed
to help the Government deliver on its 25-year environmental plan, will be split into
three components - the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and
Under the scheme, farmers and landowners will be encouraged to provide public
goods such as thriving plants and wildlife, clean and plentiful water, clean air and
mitigation and adaptations to climate change. The components are currently being
trialled, with rollout planned from late 2024 until 2028.
Batcheller Monkhouse is encouraging farmers and landowners to take advantage of
Countryside Stewardship schemes to give them a springboard to ELMS in due course.
These will be available until 2023 for agreements starting in 2024.
Energy bar is raised
Under the Minimum Energy
Efficiency Standard Regulations,
since 1 April 2021 all properties
within the private rented sector have
needed an Energy Performance
Certificate (EPC) of Band E or above
to be legally let, unless a valid
exemption is in place.
The Government is now consulting
on raising the minimum EPC
requirement to Band C before
2030 as part of its target to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to netzero by 2050.
Landlords should start planning
now and take positive action to
improve the EPC performance of
their properties or register a valid
exemption if they can’t do so.
Retirement could be an option
With the Agricultural Act 2020 now law and DEFRA’s Agricultural Transition Plan in
place, the Government is consulting on plans for a better and fairer farming system
in England through a 12-week consultation on changes to the Basic Payment
Scheme (BPS) focusing on the lump sum exit scheme and de-linked payments.
The exit scheme involves offering farmers a lump sum payment to help them retire
or leave the industry in a planned and managed way. The consultation will look at
eligibility criteria and how the value of the sum will be determined.
The Government hopes this will simplify matters for farmers while they link the
future of rural payments to environmental benefits and the sustainability of their
operations, something that will be encouraged by the new Environmental Land
“It might feel a bit like jumping off a cliff, but
with the right advice it can be absolutely the right
decision.” Batcheller Monkhouse associate partner
Charlotte Pearson-Wood knows that some farmers
and landowners are understandably cautious about
the business opportunities created by carbon capture
but believes they are well worth investigating.
And while the likes of regenerative
farming, carbon storage and biodiversity
net gain are still comparatively new
concepts, Charlotte is convinced that
they will soon be mainstream.
“This is a time of transition,” she
explained. “It all seems new at the
moment, but within a couple of years this
focus on reducing our carbon footprint
and working more closely with nature
will be the new ‘business as usual’. The
important thing farmers and landowners
need to do now is prepare for change and
make sure they don’t get left behind.”
Future payments under BPS will no longer be linked to how much land a farmer has.
BPS is being phased out over a seven-year transition period and the consultation will
seek views on how those de-linked payments will be calculated during this period.
And for Charlotte, whose role at Batcheller
Monkhouse focuses on rural and
environmental issues, getting ready for
change includes encouraging landowners
to take reliable professional advice before
making any major business decisions.
“Farmers need to be aware of the new
opportunities that are coming over
the horizon, but they also need to take
advice before accepting them at face
value,” she explained.
“When it comes to new areas, such as
selling carbon credits in what is a new
and unregulated market, landowners will
need to make sure the deal on offer is
sound and is the best one available. As
with all new opportunities, there will be
plenty of sharks in the water.”
Within a couple of years
this focus on reducing
our carbon footprint and
working more closely with
nature will be the new
‘business as usual’.
The first challenge for farmers and
landowners looking to take advantage of
the opportunity to store carbon in their
soil, meadows or trees is knowing how to
measure it accurately. “There are some
good tools out there that will allow you to
measure your own carbon footprint, along
with specialist companies that will carry
out an in-depth carbon audit of your land.