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Brexit – Boom or Bust

That the prospect of Brexit has caused some uncertainty for business is a significant understatement; agricultural business is not immune.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have produced a Brexit Impact Calculator, which appears to demonstrate that nearly all sectors of UK agriculture are to be negatively affected whatever the Brexit outcome. The proposed Agriculture Bill, currently working its way through the House of Commons, will see changes to the Basic Payment Scheme with cuts, particularly to the larger beneficiaries and money syphoned off to pilot a new environmental land management system.

At the very least farmers can expect this to be a time of change. Some flexibility in how each farm business operates will be essential. Further diversification opportunities should be explored, and the farm canvas painted in a way which maximizes the value of the asset for its income earning potential. Sheldon Bosley Knight are well placed to deliver advice on many forms of diversification, and for the alternative uses of land and buildings.

Productivity increases will be essential to maintain a margin on traditional agricultural enterprises. There is a very big difference between the top and bottom, in the scale of economic performance in UK agriculture. Many more will need to find ways of reaching the top to survive, and this will have to involve collaboration, cooperation, and improving skills including in business management.

James Walton Partner and Registered RICS Valuer
James Walton FRICS FAAV

Director & RICS Registered Valuer

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LEADING LADY OF AGRICULTURE ENJOYS SUCCESS WITH SBK

Laura Gaydon Sheldon Bosley Knight

Laura Gaydon Sheldon Bosley KnightFollowing the recent launch/merger of new company Sheldon Bosley Knight Ltd, Laura Gaydon has been promoted to Director of the new business.

Laura, a qualified Rural Chartered Surveyor and Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, joined Sheldon Bosley in 2009 following completion of a BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Science, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Estate and Land Management.

James Walton, one of Laura’s fellow Directors, said “whilst the new company will see the development and expansion of our New Homes department in particular, the roots of our business have been firmly in Land Agency and Agriculture.  It is very pleasing therefore to be able to strengthen the backbone of the business with Laura’s position equivalent to Partner in the old firm.  Laura has shown particular ability, an impressive intelligence and has strong affinity with clients, she is a great asset.”

Recently married, Laura, who is based at the Shipston-on-Stour office, has proven to be an invaluable asset to the expanding Rural Land Agency department and has contributed considerably to the growth and strengthening of this exciting, forward thinking business.  Laura manages the Rural team at the Shipston-on-Stour office and heads up the firms Equine Property Services.

She spent her early years on the family dairy farm in North Oxfordshire which encouraged a deep rooted understanding and passion for the countryside and rural affairs.  A keen horsewoman herself, Laura follows horse racing, attending the Cheltenham Festivals regularly, and also enjoys walking her two dogs.

Sheldon Bosley KnightThrilled to be appointed a Director, Laura said “It is a huge honour and privilege to be invited to be part of the equity of such a well-established and growing, local firm. The company has supported me through gaining my professional qualifications and encouraged a greater involvement in the business over the past 7 years. I am delighted to accept the position and hope to bring further strength and innovation to the future of the business”.

Specialising in Equine Property and RICS Red Book Valuations, Laura also has vast experience of agricultural property sales and lettings, agricultural subsidy and stewardship applications and Tenancies and Contract Farming Agreements.   Keen to always keep abreast of new developments in the Agricultural industry she is a Member of BIAC (The British Institute of Agricultural Consultants) and a Committee Member of Sibford Farming Club.

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Visit to the Allerton Project – Showcasing Farming, Wildlife and the Environment

Allerton ProjectLast month rural surveyors Laura Gaydon and Ted Beale of Sheldon Bosley Knight visited the Allerton Project on the Loddington Estate, a working demonstration farm in Leicestershire, by kind permission of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

The Trust was gifted the Loddington Estate in 1992 by Lord and Lady Allerton and since then the Allerton Project has made huge leaps in agricultural and environmental research, focusing on efficient farming practice and improving wildlife and conservation.

The Allerton Project has carried out numerous research projects; examples includes research to facilitate the addition of a supplementary feeding Environmental Stewardship option in 2013 for over-wintering birds to prevent the “hungry gap”, and soil management trials to establish sloping tramlines are responsible for 80% of surface water run-off.

Agriculture and wildlife conservationThe Allerton Project has highlighted in its research and from crop yields that productive agricultural land and beneficial wildlife conservation can run hand in hand – quite often a farmer may see these two attributes as conflicting and focuses on one or the other.  The Allerton Project also has a strong connection with game management, and the site visit showed an exemplary example of wild bird mixes and woodlands set up for wild gamebirds whilst complementing the environmental stewardship options and enabling productive arable farming.

Laura Gaydon MRICS FAAV, Director at Sheldon Bosley Knight, comments “The visit to the Allerton Project was truly fascinating and inspirational.  Quite often farmers are focussing on increasing agricultural productivity to the detriment of wildlife, or feel that offering a managed game shoot is not compatible with farmland bird conservation – the Allerton Project highlighted that these three elements can be worked so all productive agriculture, protecting the environment and game management can work in unison on one holding.  I would thoroughly recommend that any farmers or landowners who have an opportunity to visit the Allerton Project do so as it is an extremely interesting and thought-provoking farm visit”.

Should you require any advice on game management or environmental stewardship please contact Ted Beale MRICS FAAV on 01789 292310 or ebeale@sheldonbosleyknight.co.uk

 

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Hovel to House

Hovel to House

Following the new release of the additional General Permitted Development Order which came into force on the 6th April 2014, it is now possible to convert an agricultural building to a dwelling and also a shop to a dwelling. This is a big step forward from having to test the market for 6 months to see if there is any other need for the barn other than dwelling prior to putting in a full application to the District Council who would then take a larger criteria to make a decision on giving a consent for a conversion to a dwelling. With the new Development Order in place, you are now required to fill in a General Permitted Development Order and to provide a location plan so the District Council can make their decision.

 Converted property

Restrictions

There are of course restrictions that would prevent a notification being approved. These restrictions include that the building must have been in agricultural use or part of an established agricultural unit prior to the 20th March 2013, if the development would result in an external dimension of the building extending beyond the original dimensions of the building. If the site is an Article 1(5) land, which includes designated areas such as an area of outstanding natural beauty, conservation area, Listed or within the grounds of a Listed Building, on a site of special scientific interest, a safety hazard area, a military explosive storage area or site that contains a scheduled monument.

How big and how many barns can I convert?

The restrictions on numbers and sizes have also been put in place. You may only convert a barn that would result in no more than 450 sq m of floor space within the agricultural unit as a whole. The maximum number on one unit would be three dwellings, the accumulative floor area of these three dwellings, again must not exceed 450 sq m of floor area.

What rights might I lose?

Once a Consent has been granted for a conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling under the new GPDO, you will not be able to apply for new agricultural buildings via the Agricultural Notification for a period of 10 years. Any application that is submitted within that 10 year period must be for a Full Planning Application.

What might I be expected to provide with my General Permitted Development Order

The District Council will take into consideration five specific areas whilst making their decision and may ask for additional information on these whilst the application is being processed. These being:

  • Transport and highway impact of the development.
  • Noise impact of the development.
  • Contamination risk on site.
  • Flood risk on site.
  • Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to a use falling within the Class C3 Dwelling House of the Schedule to the Use Class Order.

Will the District Council require any further information once the General Permitted Development Order has been approved?

The District Council will condition any approval with specific details that would be required prior to work commencing on site and these will require discharge and will be known as Pre-commencement Conditions. These conditions could require further highways details, floor plans and elevations of the dwellings, Ecology Surveys, Tree Surveys to name but a few.

However, once a Permitted Development Order has been granted, these will only be hurdles that will require jumping prior to commencing on site, rather than hurdles that require jumping prior to the District Council making a decision.

Hurdles

From our understanding and the understanding of other governing bodies, it would appear that the Permitted Development Order is not restricted to traditional agricultural buildings but would include any agricultural building. Therefore, your Dutch barns and grain stores would be included in the permitted development.

For further enquiries or indeed assessments, please contact Sheldon Bosley for sound reliable guidance on your potential development.

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Biodiversity Offsetting – 27th Jan 2014

Sheldon Bosley has been monitoring the progress of the Biodiversity Offsetting Scheme Pilot.  Farmers and Developers will be interested in the outcome.

Habitat

Laura Gaydon MRICS FAAV writes.

Summary of Scheme

  • Biodiversity Offsetting allows Developers to deliver biodiversity benefits in compensation for losses occurring on development sites.  By purchasing ‘credits’ from Landowners who undertake biodiversity management, this relieves the Developer’s responsibility of maintaining their own area of land for biodiversity purposes.
  • Landowners commit to a 30 year management scheme, for creating, protecting or restoring habitats on areas or parcel(s) of land which have been assessed for their biodiversity value, and gain funding for the period of the management agreement.  The funding is paid by Developers who purchase ‘credits’ to counter-act any habitats they may have lost on development sites.  The purchased ‘credits’ should be of similar habitat value and within the locality.
  • Before the Offsetting Scheme is considered, Developers must consider all other options of creating habitats on site, or mitigating before looking at offsetting alternatives.
  • Irreplaceable sites cannot be compensated for, to include SSSIs or ancient woodland.
  • The Scheme acts to compensate for any lost biodiversity by retaining management of other areas of land in the locality.
  • DEFRA have provided a metric scale for assessing the habitat quality on the development site, to include quantity, level of biodiversity, size etc.  The site being put forward by a Landowner will also be assessed and given a number of ‘conservation credits’ which they can sell to developers looking for ‘credits’.Biodiversity 2014

Advantages

  • Income to Landowners for protecting, improving or creating natural features.
  • Income guaranteed for 30 year period at pre-agreed instalments.
  • Potential income for sites which may have little agricultural benefit/productivity, or with poor access.

Disadvantages

  • Landowner tied into 30 year management plan – long period of time to guarantee land taken out of production/management obligations being upheld.
  • Rates of income or credit value are calculated now – but value in 15 or 25 years’ time is very difficult to calculate, particularly if food productivity / gross margins / subsidy increases.
  • The Agreement is a legal contract with land owner– if sold, management obligations must be transferred on sale.
  • There is little or no known funding at present for monitoring and reporting during the Scheme – monitoring will be as stated in the management plan prepared, however will probably be through self-assessment by the landowner – photos, invoices, site inspection.
  • Dual funding and compatibility with ELS/Basic Payment Scheme and EFAs not known (DEFRA consultation not yet completed).
  • This will be in addition to CIL/Section 106 – ultimately costs of ‘offsetting’ will come out of the original Landowner’s pocket (who owns original development site).
  • The farmer or landowner has to outlay fees upfront for preparing a management plan and undertaking an ecological survey – no guarantee of acceptance into Scheme, therefore costs may not be recovered from Developer.
  • Potential issues for APR/BPR if areas of land are taken out of production and main income or activity is not agricultural.
  • Consideration needs to be given in preparation of Promotion Agreements – difficult to calculate the value of credits or offsetting costs at present.
  • Legal agreement between Environment Bank and Landowner will need careful review by legal adviser – extra expense for Landowner.

Further Comments:

  • Suggest an Adviser is needed throughout management plan to review Scheme and provide advice if management prescriptions are not working – funding for this unknown.
  • If prescriptions are not working, how can the Landowner resolve these issues without being penalised/paying back money to date?
  • Contingency costs need to be built into the management plan.Biodiversity
  • Income to be index-linked or interest-linked, but how can prices in 2014 reflect those in 2024 and 2034 onwards?
  • DEFRA Consultation on interaction with Stewardship and Basic Payment Scheme etc not yet released.
  • Six official pilots ongoing at present – Warwickshire is one.  Natural England are overseeing pilot schemes and will provide results at the end of the pilot period – Spring 2014.

Examples of Management:

  • Woodland Restoration;Biodiversity planting
  • Woodland Replanting;
  • Hedgerow Restoration, to include gapping up, coppicing, laying;
  • Grassland Management, to include low input grassland, restoration of species-rich meadows etc;
  • Reducing stocking rates;
  • Reverting arable land to permanent pasture/field corners;
  • Buffer strips;
  • Management of scrub;
  • Management of bankside vegetation adjacent to watercourses.

For more information contact Laura Gaydon 01608 661666 or lgaydon@sheldonbosley.co.uk

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Dont be caught out by Agricultural Waste Exemptions

Agricultural Waste Exemptions

Many agricultural waste activities that commonly take place on your farm will need to be registered as an Agricultural Waste Exemption with the Environment Agency.  Any exceptions registered before the 6th April 2010 will have expired on the 30th September 2013, and some old exemptions have been replaced by a new list of exempt waste activities.

Some common activities which require a waste exemption include:

  • A bonfire of wood or vegetation waste on the farm it was produced
  • Clearing silt from a stream, ditch or other inland water
  • Composting hedge trimmings, crop waste, horse or farmyard manure
  • Washing of spray containers
  • Strimming areas of ground such as river banks
  • Adding waste chalk to soil as a liming agent to improve soils
  • Spreading ditch dredging spoil on land to provide nutrients
  • Using telegraph poles for pole barns
  • Using tyres on a silage clamp
  • Using shredded rubber in a horse manège
  • Using rubble from a demolished farm building in the foundations of a new barn
  • Using woodchip as surfacing for a path

If you are concerned that you are undertaking activities which require a Waste Exemption, please contact our Land Agency Department on 01608 661666.

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CAP REFORM UPDATE

Some progress in the decision making for the CAP Reform……….

Recent announcements have confirmed some progress in the decision making for the CAP Reform, however many details are still yet to be decided. The main agreed principles are as follows:

1. The existing Single Payment Scheme Entitlements will be rolled forward into the new Scheme, becoming ‘Basic Payment Entitlements’.

• The number of Entitlements a claimant holds on 31st December 2014 will be the number that    he will hold under Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) from 1st January 2015.

• Where a farmer holds more BPS Entitlements than eligible land declared in 2015, any excess Entitlements will be lost

2. The three current payment regions in England will remain the same, being non-SDA, SDA outside the Moorland, and Moorland SDA.

3. Member States can apply their own reduction to Basic Payment Scheme payments above 150,000 euros, with DEFRA’s preference being to apply the minimum level of reduction allowed, which is 5% reduction above 150,000 euros.

4. A minimum claim size of 5 ha will be introduced.

5. DEFRA will implement a Young Farmer Scheme, giving an additional 25% payment to qualifying Applicants for the first five years of setting up their Holding. The individual must not be over 40 years old in the year they submit their BPS claim and have set up as Head of Holding in the preceding five years.

6. Crop diversification will apply as follows:

• Less than 10 ha arable area – no crop diversification;

• 10 ha to 30 ha of arable area – claimants must grow at least two different crops with main crop not covering more than 75% of arable area;

• More than 30 ha of arable area – claimants must grow at least three crops with main crop not covering more than 75% of arable area. Two main crops must not cover more than 95% of arable area;

• Winter and spring varieties will count as separate crops.

7. Permanent grassland will be monitored on a national level, with baseline figures restricted to falling by less than 5%;

8. Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s) are applicable where an applicant has more than 15 ha of arable land – 5% of the arable area must be delivered as EFAs, including fallow land, terraces, landscape features, buffer strips, agro-forestry, uncultivated land adjacent to woodland, short rotation coppice, catch crops/green cover and nitrogen-fixing crops.

Trading is on the Up

Prices seen for Entitlement trading has already risen this season, and it is expected that owners with Naked Acres will look to purchase Entitlements to match their land area ready for 2015. Those with excess entitlements should consider selling as from 2015 any excess entitlements will be lost.

If you have any Entitlements to sell, or are looking to purchase please contact our Rural Land Agency team on 01608 661666.

For further advice on the CAP Reform and how this may affect your business or current farming arrangements, please call Rosemary Smith or Laura Gaydon on 01608 661666.