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HS2 review misses key points, highlights CAAV

20 November 2020

A review of HS2’s land and property acquisition has missed some fundamental points, according to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).

The review, initiated by the Department for Transport in the summer, tried to address a wide range of concerns raised by several different parties involved with HS2, explains Kate Russell, policy adviser to the CAAV. “Perhaps inevitably, the result is a piecemeal series of recommendations. While some are very welcome – like better communication and more flexibility - we are disappointed that some of the really important factors do not appear to be addressed.”

The review set out 36 detailed recommendations under four main themes:

  • Better and more courteous communication with affected parties
  • A more flexible approach to settling compensation claims
  • Giving those affected more certainty on when land will be taken and how it might be returned if not needed
  • Improved information management and administration.

The CAAV has previously argued that a more flexible approach needed to be taken to compensation, especially as no two farms, businesses or properties affected by the scheme are identical. “We look forward to seeing how this could be implemented, because it’s likely to require a change in mindset within HS2,” says Ms Russell.

“The commitment to improve IT and administration is also very welcome. A good system of information management should free up case managers to spend more time on dealing with claimants. However, it’s shocking that we are nine years into this project and the IT still isn’t up to scratch,” she adds.

Despite highlighting some important areas for improvement, the review misses a number of key points. “The report acknowledges that HS2’s current dispute resolution offer isn’t working because claimants don’t trust it; feeling it lacks independence because they have to choose who will resolve a dispute from HS2’s own panel,” explains Ms Russell. “Dispute resolution is a really important area and it would be quite simple for HS2 to ask an independent body, such as the CAAV, to appoint a neutral third person to deal with the matter.”

The second issue is much broader, she says. “We want to see HS2 balance its statutory powers with a duty of care to those affected by it and though the review states there will be a renewed focus on placing people at the heart of the scheme, there’s very little detail on how this will be achieved.”

Improving access to professional advice is a further area the report has failed to outline. “We have members involved on both sides; some acting for HS2 and others acting for land, property and business owners,” explains Ms Russell. “We want HS2 to give more autonomy to its expert agricultural valuers – the people on the ground who really understand farming and rural business – so that claims can be dealt with more quickly and efficiently.” 


Jeremy's Blog 20th November 2020: Renewable Energy

20 November 2020


This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 19th November 2020.

Only 10 years ago renewable energy exploded on the market as something that could be done on farms and estates, going beyond a few wind turbines to the rapid expansion of solar and, to a less obvious extent, AD and hydro, as part of the farm business or, often larger schemes, leased out.  As this activity spread swiftly from an initial focus in Cornwall, members applied the core skills of the profession to appraisal of the issues for clients, negotiating agreements and finding values and the CAAV provided briefing and support with publications and discussion.  A similar, if less visible, process started a year later with renewable heat.
Triggered by Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs), that step-change was a classic example of how public funds can be used to pump prime change and stimulate technical development. Perhaps set at overgenerous levels and coinciding with a fall in solar panel prices as Chinese supply exceeded an eased international demand, FiTs showed clearly how such a substantial intervention can change behaviour, when a lesser one might fail.
This economic activity generated technological development, improved efficiency and lower costs to the point where FiTs could be withdrawn, passing the baton to the marketplace.  While the market did then check, it has returned with a larger scale for solar farms.  That sees a move to longer leases with escalating turnover rents but also, as time passes, closer consideration of liabilities on termination and an awareness of the other income that can be earned from a site.
We have seen growth not just with batteries or, more broadly, storage but really in ways to hold power when it is “overproduced” for use when it is needed, smoothing supply and prices.  This has been done on a large scale since the 1980s by Snowdonia’s pumped water storage plant at Dinorwig, using cheap power to pump water uphill to be released swiftly to generate power when supply is tight.  Improved battery technology has made time-shifting more feasible but the world is moving on to flywheels, hydrogen and other means while the interrelationship with power production (as on a solar farm) becomes more complex. 
Seeing the need for reappraisal, the CAAV is looking at the challenges this evolution poses in negotiating such projects with analogies seen with conventional development agreements, whether over approaches to options and promotion, land pooling between owners, definition of uses, and how rent can reflect income generation.

Jeremy's Blog 12/11/20: From Agriculture Act to a Green Recovery?

13 November 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 12th November 2020:

Although we wait to see the shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU as negotiations of historic importance run beyond injury time, post-Brexit polices are moving from speculation to action.

The Agriculture Act 2020 is the first post-Brexit policy statute and the first Agriculture Act since 1947.  Taking effect in January, it will among many things enable the President of the CAAV to appoint arbitrators to tenancy disputes in England and Wales and pave the way for measures to improve farming productivity; that is its efficiency and competitiveness.  The CAAV is involved with work with government on that.

The government’s larger theme is environmental improvement, with much policy framed by the 25 Year Environment Plan.  This is not only for the net zero imperatives of climate change mitigation and adaption but also biodiversity and the quality of water and air.   All these impinge on rural land management. 

The Environment Bill will set important high level principles, targets, enforcement and local nature recovery strategies.  The Agriculture Act gives DEFRA powers to develop ELM, with more details to come in the next few weeks and the first phase of the pilots in 2021.  A regulatory baseline will come to replace cross compliance, saying what the law will require.

However, this is not only about schemes and public money but also harnessing the power of private finance, increasingly aware of the risks and opportunities here, and markets.  Markets will move values and, as the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, so the talk is now of “stranded assets” left behind and devalued by these changes.  The Chancellor took a further step on Monday, outlining post-Brexit financial services legislation with:

  • requiring large companies and investment institutions to publish their impact on climate change, moving beyond the current voluntary process, with effects likely to ripple along supply chains from supermarkets and major food processors.  This process is already affecting investors’ views of fossil fuels while data is now showing investors where flooding is a risk for property.
  • replacing the EU’s regulation of insurance and pension companies so that they can invest more in infrastructure, renewable energy, housing and climate change measures.
  • informing markets with rules classifying how far investments and companies are “green”
  • creating green bonds markets to fund climate change and environmental action

With biodiversity net gain another such mechanism, watch for the government heralding a “green recovery” with such carrots and sticks.

A303 Stonehenge DCO granted

13 November 2020

A Development Consent Order has been made for improvements to the A303 at Stonehenge, including a 2 mile tunnel to hide the road from the protected landscape. Further detail on the works can be found on the Highways England website.

Jeremy's Blog 06/11/20: Lockdowns and business

06 November 2020

This blog by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 5th November 2020.

England today joins Wales and Northern Ireland with new country-wide restrictions on social and economic life while Scotland’s Tiers were introduced on Tuesday, all responding to a rising Covid-19 incidence.  Each country has struck its own difficult balance between disease control and continuity of activity and business.  Ireland, France, Belgium and others have taken severe measures.

This English lockdown differs from the spring.  It follows this autumn’s Tiers in focusing restrictions on social and private life and less on much business, especially services.  Schools stay open, removing the concept of a key or essential worker used then to justify whose children could have school places releasing them for work.  Property market activity is permitted and construction can continue. 

Work, education, provisioning and several social purposes are legal reasons for leaving home where reasonably necessary (for work, where it is not reasonably possible to do it from home).  Other rules, including allowances for work and education, apply to “gatherings” of more than two people.  This level of control over a complex society retaining the rule of law inevitably creates situations that may appear anomalous.

The most severe business restrictions are on hospitality and the on-premises sale of all goods except those permitted.  Other activities, from livestock markets to estate agents appear only limited by the rules on leaving home and gatherings but must assess risks and have measures to limit virus transmission. 

Frustrating the recovery needed to pay for all, this puts more friction into much business life.  As people are less together in offices or meetings, taking negotiated business forward becomes more cumbersome.   

That balance between disease control and social and economic damage is not solved by a single lockdown.  As mused here two weeks ago - we should prepare for the long haul.  We do not know what happens when it is supposed to end.  Is it extended or varied?  Do we go back to tiers or face a cycle of relaxations and lockdowns into next year, exposing more people while managing pressure on hospitals?  While the Government now looks to mass testing (as in Slovakia and to be tried in Liverpool), most hope for a vaccine which, if effective, might be available at scale by Easter.  Spain has imposed a State of Emergency running until May.

Throughout this, the CAAV has developed to support continuity of service for members’ continuing professional life, work endorsed by Tuesday’s Council.  Beyond that, the clock ticks with only days to any deal with the EU.

Arrangements for taking the CAAV Examinations under Covid-19 Restrictions (Members Only)

03 November 2020

The CAAV has been reviewing the arrangements for the November examinations in light of the developing situation with the Covid-19 virus and has prepared the following documents to assist candidates: -

CAAV Examinations 2020 (Members Only)

01 November 2020

A meeting tomorrow is to review the developing situation with the pandemic, including the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday evening of England-wide restrictions.   We will circulate briefing after that on the approach being taken.  

With plans laid for the examinations to be held remotely, all candidates were e-mailed last week to ask them to:

  • arrange a venue where they could take the papers in examination conditions
  • test their link to the portal being used for this
  • confirm to the Secretariat an e-mail address and mobile number on which they could be contacted at that venue  on the examination days.

While many have replied (with all tests successful), could those who have not yet done so please do this?

Jeremy's Blog 30th October 2020: Dynamics for Business Change

30 October 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 29th October 2020.

With barely 60 days to the end of the EU transition period, we need to look at the dynamics for business change as domestic policies take effect.

All new schemes – productivity, resilience, land management, environment, animal welfare and so on – would be funded from the one pot of money, level until 2024, putting Basic Payment rates under pressure.  The potential rewards from productivity improvement (not production volume but economic effectiveness) greatly outweigh that £2.8bn.
The New Year, 3 years after Health and Harmony, starts England’s seven year agricultural transition.  New policies will replace the legacy of old CAP schemes, the Basic Payment going over 2021 to 2027.  What might that drive?
For the large majority of cereals and grazing livestock businesses, perhaps not much more than a third of agriculture’s output by value, Basic Payment is a significant component of income, albeit typically dwarfed by the value of produce sold.  On a snapshot, Basic Payment will, on average, be likely to approach the assessed profit.  Losing that is motive enough for change; some might absorb the pain, others will react.
However, subsidies have been passed on into costs, not retained as gross income.  With the EU’s tariffs, they have shielded business approaches and structures that would have changed.  The agricultural transition reverses that dynamic, putting those issues under the spotlight for each business, lowland as much as upland, seeking to earn its livelihood.
As in previous periods of financial pressure, that stimulates sustained change in costs and structures and in who is producing what where and how it is sold.  With the flexibility of the marketplace, each change opens up new changes as values, perceptions and people adjust.  
Simply increasing land area might not now be the answer, as we may see businesses reject some land, become higher value on smaller areas and technology may remove a driver for scale.  
ELM, still developing for late 2024, should not be seen as a new BPS, avoiding this.  It will be in the toolbox, suiting some more than others.  Other new schemes will mean it has a lesser budget while payments might still be based on a compensation approach, perhaps paying less to those who now earn least.
The focus has to be on the business, with answers not only of improved performance but also from new business approaches on one hand, to letting out or extensive land management on the other.  That is a call for professional advice.

Jeremy's Blog 23rd October 2020: Coronavirus Ongoing Measures

23 October 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 22nd October 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic and the measures to manage it perplex the more as it goes on.  All, including government, are trying to understand it as it evolves while, over time, the challenge in balancing business and health seems to become more difficult.
It now looks more complex than the simple hit and then recovery, with a V-shaped model for the economy, assumed at first.  “Herd immunity” seems distant (even in Sweden) – especially as many rural areas have had little exposure to the disease – and it is uncertain what a vaccine might achieve were it available.  With cases (but not yet so much deaths) rising faster than foreseen, this looks like a longer and more testing haul.  The longer the disruption lasts, the more change we will see in business and social life.
As the Chancellor revises his judgments, uncertainty has reduced the intended three year spending review to a single year’s settlement with potential consequences for such multi-year schemes as the long promised UK Shared Prosperity Fund, in part replacing LEADER.  Agriculture benefits from the funding commitment running to 2024.  Meanwhile, Government finds itself bargaining with the haphazard structure of partial English devolution.
The March Budget outlined £640 billion of infrastructure spending over the next five years but doubts are being posed – in local AGMs and more broadly – about the full programme.  Some, pointing to new work patterns, argue about its composition, criticising many transport works from Heathrow’s runway to HS2.
Bar perhaps some relaxation in Leicester and Luton, the fact of restrictions on local areas creates an inertia for their retention.  Scotland is extending its restrictions; Wales has indicated new national rules when its present “firebreak” ends and England is bringing more areas into higher risk tiers.  What happens as the weeks go by?
Much of agriculture remains largely unaffected, having the same issues as in February but with a second difficult autumn.  However, the lockdowns of hospitality in Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of England and Scotland further disrupt the food service sector.  Supplying schools and hospitals will not be enough to carry overheads of wholesale supply chains.  They, as much as turkey farmers, looks nervously at Christmas.  Meanwhile, the “firebreak” has been thought to cost Anglesey over £1m in holiday cottage income.
It does look like preparing business for the long haul and, with the need for economic growth to pay for all, moving to a green recovery becomes more imperative.

Jeremy's Blog 09/10/20: Profit, Schemes and Work

09 October 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 8th October 2020.

Over 4 years after the Referendum, we seem finally to be on the brink of new policies being introduced after the EU transition period ends with New Year’s Eve, with increasing effects on clients and for professional work for them.  

The Agriculture Bill, providing policy powers for DEFRA, Wales and Northern Ireland, is in its final stages before Royal Assent, perhaps completed in the next few days. 

DEFRA is saying that, perhaps in November, it will set out much more of the detail of how the coming changes will be implemented.  That might cover more of how Basic Payment is to be reduced, how ELMS might be introduced, the possible new Sustainable Farming Incentive for 2022 and 2023 with allied consultations on de-linking and other matters.  It could include the further changes to simplify BPS; crop diversification and EFAs have already gone.  Detailed legislation would come in 2021.

Wales is consulting on simplification for 2021 and promises a White Paper in the winter for legislation later next year, replacing BPS with the Sustainable Farming Scheme.  Scotland is to publish proposals for policies after 2024 and may use its new simplification powers.  Northern Irish legislation may come after the 2022 Assembly elections.

Three of many issues are farming profitability, the environmental demand and contact with clients.

It is a longstanding comment that farming must be profitable to be green; indeed, the management needed for good farming is consistent with good environmental practice.  The withdrawal of Basic Payment will throw that into sharp relief as those dependent on farming will need to farm for profit or find alternatives, no longer cushioned by area support.  Turning essentially on the individuals involved, the range of performance means that the restructuring to achieve a profitable sector may be underestimated by many.   

With issues of climate change, water quality, biodiversity, we are watching a debate about how much change will be required by environmental schemes.  How far might the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Tier 1 ELM be a poor man’s BPS with more cross compliance, inevitably with less money?  How far will ELM be shaped to drive real change?   Beneath that will be the legal requirements of regulatory baseline, probably rising. 

Then, as greening is removed and then Basic Payment is de-linked but with the likely changes requiring much professional advice, what might professionals to do keep in good contact with clients, maintaining their place as trusted advisers? 

Jeremy's Blog 5/10/2020: Future Land Use

05 October 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 1st October 2020.

Last Monday (28th September) saw two press reports illuminating possible futures.  The widely publicised one was the Prime Minister’s “30 by 30” pledge to increase the area of the UK devoted “to nature” to 30 per cent by 2030.  The one tucked away in the financial pages was the government’s support for insect farming companies, producing black soldier fly larvae in sheds as poultry and fish feed.

The impact of the first may not yet be clear.  No 10 talked of 1,000,000 more acres in National Parks but said nothing about land use, save that the government would work with landowners.  The wide-ranging Glover review of landscapes suggested that the Chilterns, the Cotswolds and Dorset/East Devon could see National Parks but, beyond their different governance and purpose, that would not of itself change land use.

The mechanism within the scope of the 25 Year Environment Plan might be the Environment Bill’s Local Nature Recovery Strategies, identifying habitats, priorities and measures at planning authority level with effects that might inform planning zoning under the new planning policy (and perhaps the design codes), the suggested landscape and collaborative Tier 3 of ELM, the operation of biodiversity net gain and other matters.  The effects on land management, farming and values remain to be seen as the larger picture on land use planning emerges.

The other glimpse is of a future with more controlled environment farming.  Perhaps towards a third of UK agriculture’s output by value is already from under some form of cover.  The Government is provided £10m innovation support for black soldier fly larvae farming to produce protein as feed, particularly for poultry and fish.   These larvae are favoured for their high protein value and are said to be 300 times as efficient per sq m as Brazilian soya, so easing pressure on the Amazon forests. 

The current project would see five million larvae in a building with a supermarket’s waste food as feed and its fish suppliers encouraged to buy larvae-based feed.  Their waste (“frass”) would be sold as horticultural fertiliser.  

A Barclays report last year saw an $8bn insect protein market by 2030; the European Food Safety Agency could approve several insects for human consumption this year.

Both developments will create work, requiring familiarity with the business-based issues of indoor farming and the potential for some forms of controlled environment farming to be in the urban areas they supply as much as with the emerging land use picture.

CAAV launches Facilitating Dispute Resolution service

28 September 2020

Having an arbitrator is about to be made more practical, as the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) launches its service Facilitating Dispute Resolution.

The Agriculture Bill is to give the CAAV the power to appoint arbitrators in England and Wales, meaning it can now appoint official arbitrators in farm tenancy disputes. With that proposed standing, the CAAV is also developing a broader service – launched at the CAAV’s Annual Conference - for all forms of dispute resolution across the UK, meaning disputes in Scotland and Northern Ireland can also be handled.

With a Panel of Arbitrators being appointed this autumn, the CAAV’s service will refresh and widen the options for anyone seeking an arbitrator or other dispute resolver, says Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV. The CAAV is pleased to announce that Lord Curry has joined the Oversight Board, ensuring confidence in the service’s professional operation.

“The service will function across the rural economy, providing landlords, tenants, utilities and businesses with the most suitable and qualified professional for their specific requirements,” he explains. “Whether overseeing a contract dispute, tenancy issue or compulsory purchase, the aim is that a timely, cost-effective, robust and practical approach is taken towards arbitration, using the powers of the Arbitration Act. Businesses need an effective answer in good time so that they can move on.”

Disputes within farming partnerships may need arbitration or mediation to save them from the courts.  This service can answer that.

With the proposed changes to England’s planning system potentially creating the biggest shake-up in over 70 years, disputes over development land contracts and their valuation will need resolving; this service offers an answer whether by early review or expert determination.

Disputes over compensation for new water pipes or compulsory purchase could all be dealt with by this service.  

The Electronics Communications Code, which has already given rise to numerous disputes - leading to more than two years’ stalemate over rents and terms for telecoms sites - has recently sparked a flurry of cases from courts in England and Scotland. These have shed some light on how valuations should be approached, both for new sites and lease renewals on existing masts, explains Kate Russell, technical and policy adviser to the CAAV. “These disputes have gone to tribunals and courts because the parties need guidance on interpretation of the law at the moment. Our new service could be used to speed up and cut the cost of this process.”

Jeremy's Blog 25/9/2020: International Risk

25 September 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 24th September 2020

Agriculture is remarkable as a sector of small businesses exposed directly to international economic markets.  We are used to the influence of exchange rates on farm earnings, as so many produce commodities for what have become global markets.  The £/€ rate for produce and subsidies has explained much of the movement in farming incomes.  The oil price and dollar movements are revealed in fuel and other bills.  It also flows the other way: the 2010 wheat price spike and associated trade restrictions drove the Arab spring.

While the UK wheat price is reacting to the exchange rate and risks at the end of this year, we may now be looking at both longer term and deeper changes in global trading influencing our markets. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the globalisation of disease.  Food and farm supply chains have been resilient but are now more likely to diversify for security.  We face other diseases from those like Xylella that beset trees to African Swine Fever, spreading among Europe’s pigs.  ASF has been devastating in China which has lost 100 million pigs with effects on the pork price.  Its pork stocks are said to be down to 100,000 tonnes when it eats 50mt a year with imports having wider consequences in meat and feed markets.    

Globally, finance is another factor reflecting the growing concern over climate change.  Investor pressure on fossil fuel firms over carbon is now spreading to other sectors, including food production in emerging markets.  With the impact on production of climate change, changing public tastes and sensitivities to risks with soil quality, biodiversity and water, there are reports of investors becoming more cautious or withdrawing.   Those investors, wanting to understand risk, will seek more disclosure and assurance from companies, as through the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosure, so drawing more attention to these issues.

Credit risks increase not only for emerging market producers of meat and dairy, but international produce brokers whose access to finance and so operations may be limited by banking regulations.

Such a re-appreciation of risk may make it clearer where the carbon cost or impact of meat production is highest and assurance is least.  For the UK, less directly affected by climate change than much of the world, an emphasis on production and environmental standards is needed for a high cost country to hold and win markets at home and abroad. 

NEW PODCAST on Renewing Telecoms Agreements

25 September 2020

Kate Russell reviews recent case law which sheds light on the correct approach to the renewal of telecoms agreements under the Electronic Communications Code in England and Wales.

Also available on AppleSpotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

Jeremy's Blog 18/9/2020: The New Regime

18 September 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 17th September 2020.

As the Agriculture Bill enters its final straight, ministers have talked of the next steps in creating England’s post-Brexit regime, stressing productivity as interlinked with “public goods”: “our natural resources essential for food production”.

A major series of statements and consultations are to come towards the end of the year with:

  • the plan for the coming schemes giving “further information on funding for the early years of agricultural transition period” and so some of the phasing out of BPS
  • a consultation on the delinking of BPS and lump sum payments
  • a consultation on regulatory enforcement.

Productivity grants are to assist investment in equipment, technology and infrastructure from 2021.

ELMS and schemes for animal welfare and plant health are to buy change to meet six aims from the 25 Year Environment Plan: “clean air, clean and plentiful water, thriving plants and wildlife, reduction in and protection from environmental hazards such as flooding, adaptation to and mitigation of climate change and beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment”.  Those being wider than Countryside Stewardship (for which farmers will be able to apply until 2023), a “stepping-stone” (“Sustainable Farming Incentive”?) towards ELMS Tier 1 has been mooted, perhaps for matters like soils and nutrients. 

ELMS Tier 1 is to be for environmentally sustainable farming, Tier 2 to buy change in land use and Tier 3 for wider scale landscape management and collaboration.  The latter two would be more geared to local priorities, perhaps following the Environment Bill’s Local Nature Recovery Strategies which may also inform planning policies and the use of biodiversity net gain.

So far as ELMS might pay usefully, that is the carrot, paying for public goods that are above the stick of the regulatory baseline which could rise.  The force of cross compliance will wane with BPS but much is in legislation.  Penalties may become more proportionate but standards may be strengthened and the consultation may review “other possible levers that we could use to encourage more effective industry compliance”.

Farmers will need advice: “I reiterate the Government’s view that expert advice and guidance is critical to the successful delivery of future schemes”.  DEFRA proposes to use the Bill’s ability to fund the provision of advice, guidance and other support.  40 tests and trials include this and “ways in which skills and qualifications in environmental land management can be improved” showing that advice “must be trusted, consistent, credible and cost effective”.

Metaldehyde to be banned from 2022

18 September 2020

The Government has announced that metaldehyde - most commonly used to control slugs - is to be banned for both commercial and domestic outdoor use from March 2022. Sales of metaldehyde will be prohibited after 31st March 2021. The statement by Farming Minister Victoria Prentis can be found on the website.

ICAEW Farming and Rural Business Conference 2020

18 September 2020

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is holding a virtual Farming and Rural Business Conference on 29th and 30th September 2020. The keynote speaker is Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, and the cost for non-members is £100+VAT. Details and booking are available via the ICAEW website.  

Welsh Government funding for the countryside

14 September 2020

The Welsh Government has made £7.4 million available for improving access to the countryside, investing in green infrastructure and improving sustainability. The funds will be awarded to National Parks, AONBs and Local Authorities. Further details can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Jeremy's Blog 11/09/20: Deal or No-deal?

11 September 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 10th September 2020.

We are now 16 weeks to the end of the EU transition period.  If a deal is to be in place for 1st January, it needs substantial agreement by mid-October.   This week has highlighted the possibility that the negotiating mandates preclude a deal acceptable to both the UK and the EU.  Aside from fisheries, the major problems are understood to lie around the relationship between future UK rules and evolving EU ones, notably around state aid for business (with the Government anxious about the technology sector).  That could be overcome by political decisions in the next few days and does not exclude a deal next year or later.   Meanwhile, the Government is said to have modelled the situation where no deal coincides with a Covid peak and flooding. 

Separately, issues with the agreed framework of the Northern Ireland Protocol include:

  • the paperwork and potential tariffs for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – 750,000 tonnes of feed grain, second-hand machinery from auctions and livestock medicines.
  • how “unfettered access” to Great Britain for goods from Northern Ireland might work while ensuring that the province is not a back door from the EU to the UK
  • the interaction between the rules for Northern Ireland and UK state aid.

The Government has now controversially proposed powers to help manage some of the issues.

No deal means tariffs: for wheat, £79/t on imports and €95/t on exports to the EU.   With a poor harvest but good milling quality, more barley, access to maize and some retention of flour that would go to Ireland, this might be less significant than it looks but some export trade might be brought forward.   Measures appear to be in mind for disruption to the lamb trade.

Previous deadlines saw much no deal planning.  That will not mean all issues have been identified or managed.  As before, it seems prudent for a farm or other business to think, for January and then the first quarter of 2021 what it would feel silly not to have done, from spare parts to sales.  Deal or not, tariffs or not, those trading with the EU will need to manage customs and other paperwork while issues may range from heat-treated pallets to containers with several consignments. 

It would be helpful for CAAV work with Government to hear from members where their work highlights possible practical challenges to business continuity.       

The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme 2020

09 September 2020

The Prince's Countryside Fund has opened registration for the Prince's Farm Resilience Programme 2020. The Programme enables family farm businesses to access free business skills and environmental training to help improve business viability. More detail can be found on the PCF website where there is a link to register interest in taking part.

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