ADVISORY NEWS: TRANSFORMING THE FUTURE OF LAND MANAGEMENT AND GETTING READY FOR ELMS WITH WHOLE ESTATE PLANNING
Executive Director Rob Hindle is taking part in a webinar series, hosted by The Land App and The Duchy of Cornwall on Thursday, 30th April, setting out how landowners can best prepare for the new approach from Government to pay for environmental outcomes as public goods through the Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS).
This new series of 11 episodes: Transforming the Future of Land Management, will see presentations from a number of top industry professionals offering insight and information on a host of matters related to a new approach to Land Management through the lens of Natural Capital. The webinar series have already welcomed over 1,000 registrants and received strong, positive feedback.
Rob will be presenting with industry peer, Jeremy Clitherow, Natural Capital Advisor at the Duchy of Cornwall and will be discussing the use of a Whole Estate Planning approach to secure a detailed understanding of existing natural capital stocks and flows, and opportunities available for enhancement.
The Agriculture and Environment Bills are on their way and whilst much work on detail remains, we would urge land managers to prepare effectively by taking time to gain a full and up to date understanding of their natural capital assets and the environmental potential they offer before embarking on an ELMS strategy.
Michael Gove’s Health and Harmony Consultation in September 2018 is the driver behind the ELMS approach and its design. The ‘tests and trials’ process has already begun in earnest with a view to launching a national pilot in 2021. In principle, ELMS is designed to deliver a three-tiered approach:
- Encouraging environmentally sustainable farming
- Locally targeted environmental outcomes
- Landscape-scale, land use change projects
The opportunity to deliver transformational land use change at a landscape level is key for those land managers who care for large areas.
NATURAL CAPITAL STRATEGIES & BASELINE AND ENHANCEMENT PLANS
Landowners and managers’ first step towards a Natural Capital Strategy should be to establish a Baseline and Enhancement Plan at a landscape scale. A process which can and now should be readily incorporated within a Whole Estate Plan making process.
Concentrating on the natural capital assets, the baseline analysis will assess the makeup of the estate(s) or holding(s) across the core elements of freshwater, land (including built heritage), species, ecological communities, soil, and geological assets. It records and assesses the varied habitats that these provide, the biodiversity they support and the other environmental and public goods that they provide.
The analysis will include an assessment of condition and significance before going on to identify and scope out the potential (and options) for environmental enhancements.
An early and detailed understanding of the significance and potential of a holding’s natural capital asset will be essential to securing improved outcomes for farms and estates under the ELMS process.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Our team has grown to include specialist environmental consultants, combining their skills and experience with those of the rural business, planning and landscape professionals. This holistic approach ensures that clients’ decisions are supported by the knowledge, insight and expertise to prepare them appropriately for the transition from BPS (Basic Payment Scheme) to ELMS.
Of course, at this point, we can’t pretend to know exactly what is on the horizon in terms of detail, and now the current pandemic introduces a major element of uncertainty, but there can be little doubt that investing in Natural Capital baseline and enhancement planning is a wise move. Doing it at estate or landscape scale will not only reap greater environmental rewards but potentially, greater financial gain.
WHOLE ESTATE PLANS
Whole Estate Plans can be employed as a much broader tool and as a result of rural estates becoming ever more complex and multi-faceted businesses, the plan is a great way for them to look for ways to diversify their income base to supplement, or in some cases replace traditional agricultural incomes.
An estate can have a range of enterprises and developments in its portfolio which have often evolved over a number of years. These estates have a critical role to play in the countryside – environmental stewardship, managing the land, conserving heritage assets, creating employment, enabling access to nature, providing homes and other services for the community whilst supporting multi-generational families – and balancing these obligations can be tricky.
The Plan provides an approach to estate management that considers the role of the estate and its assets, the contribution it wishes to make to the countryside and communities within which it sits, and finally, puts that into the context of the owners’ motivation.
Devising a plan like this, creates a platform to share and engage other stakeholders such as local planning authorities with the estate’s vision and can aid the process of getting the right consents in place for the development needed to meet the estate’s objectives. Involving a professional organisation as the author allows for an objective approach on what is the best course of action for the estate as a whole and importantly, how to deliver on the identified goals.
Register for the webinars here, or get in touch with us directly if you would like to enquire about developing a Natural Capital Strategy, a Natural Capital Baseline and Enhancement Plan or a Whole Estate Plan.