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Countryside Stewardship application window opens for 2021 agreements

11 February 2020

The Countryside Stewardship application window has opened today for agreements with a 1st January 2021 start date. Applications can be submitted for the Mid Tier, Higher Tier and the four Wildlife Offers. Further information and guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Harper Adams University Rural Research Conference 2020

10 February 2020

Harper Adams University's Rural Research Conference takes place on Thursday 23rd April 2020. Details of the programme and how to book are available at

NFU Rural Surveyor and Planning Firms - invitation to tender

10 February 2020

The National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales (NFU) is looking to renew its approved list of professionals providing land and tenancy and/or planning advice and services to NFU Farmer and Grower members. Successful firms will be will promoted as NFU Rural Surveyor and Planning Firms on the NFU’s website and in national and regional NFU publications. Firms will also be able to display their status with an NFU Rural Surveyor Firm or NFU Planning Firm logo and may be invited to participate in regional and national NFU events, as appropriate and in agreement with the event organiser. In addition, Firms will have direct access to the NFU’s technical and policy briefing papers and, annually, be invited to a national briefing on agricultural tenancy and planning issues.

For more information or for an tender pack please contact the NFU at by 29th February 2020.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group: reform of inheritance tax

06 February 2020

The All-Party Parliamentary Group have published a report on their recommendations on the reform of inheritance tax. The full report can be found on the STEP website

Scotland begins to issue Basic Payment Scheme 2019 payments

05 February 2020

The Scottish Government has confirmed that Basic Payment Scheme 2019 payments (including Greening and Young Farmer payments) have started to be issued. This follows the National Basic Payment Support Scheme 2019 loan payments (up to 95% of  estimated payment value) which were issued in October 2019. Please see the Scottish Government website for further details.

Rural businesses encouraged to apply for growth grants by 16th February 2020 deadline

05 February 2020

With over £50 million of government funding available, rural businesses are being encouraged to apply to the Growth Programme by 16th February 2020 deadline. Grants of £20,000 up to £750,000 are available to "boost productivity, create local jobs and increase tourism." Further details are available on the GOV.UK website.

Northern Ireland: Agriculture Minister confirms £293 million secured for Direct Payments for 2020

04 February 2020

The Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has confirmed that farmers will share £293 million in Direct Payments for 2020, with the Department aiming to make full payments from 16th October 2020. The Minister announced that the 2020 scheme will operate in a similar fashion to that in 2019, apart from a small number of changes as a result of the exit from the EU. The full article can be found on the DAERA website

Northern Ireland: DAERA Plant Export Certificates go online

04 February 2020

Anyone exporting plants or plant products can now apply online for their statutory phytosanitary certificate. This can be found on the DAERA website


Agriculture Bill is brought forward for Second Reading

04 February 2020

The Agriculture Bill was brought forward for Second Reading in the House of Commons yesterday (3rd February 2020). This was the first opportunity for the Bill to be debated by MPs. The Bill will now go to Committee Stage, Report Stage and Third Reading, before transferring to the House of Lords. Please see the GOV.UK website for a news release and the progress of the Bill can be viewed on the UK Parliament website.

Prime Minister sets out Government's proposed approach to negotiations with the EU

03 February 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a Written Statement to Parliament setting out the Government's proposed approach to the negotiations with the EU about the future relationship between the UK and the EU. The statement can be viewed on the GOV.UK website.

Progress for Oxford-Cambridge Arc as government announces preferred East West Rail central section

03 February 2020

The government has announced the preferred route for the East West Rail central section following consultation last year. This can be found on the GOV.UK website

Sir William Worsley appointed as Forestry Commission Chair

03 February 2020

Sir William Worsley has been confirmed as the new Chair of the Forestry Commission and will take up his role on 10th February 2020. Further details can be found in the news release on the GOV.UK website.

DEFRA podcast on future funding for farmers

31 January 2020

In preparation for the UK leaving the EU, DEFRA (in conjunction with Farmers Weekly) has recorded a podcast on funding for farmers. This covers:-

  • DEFRA funding for farmers in 2020 and beyond;
  • Wider funding for farmers; and
  • Trade and promoting the farming sector.

CAAV launches new podcast

30 January 2020

The CAAV has launched a new podcast.

In the first episode, the Secretary and Adviser to the CAAV, Jeremy Moody, gives his analysis of the future challenges that farming businesses will face, how they should act now and prepare for change with the role of the Valuer as a trusted adviser helping clients through this. He also discusses some highlights of the CAAV’s most recent publication called ‘Reviewing a Business: An Introduction for Agricultural Valuers’.

You can listen to the podcast here.

The podcast is also available on Spotify here and will shortly be made available on other platforms including Apple Podcasts.


Environment Bill to be introduced into Parliament

30 January 2020

The Environment Bill is to be introduced into Parliament later today (30th January 2020). This "ground-breaking Bill will enshrine environmental principles in law and introduce measures to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive." Please see the press release for further details.

DEFRA launches new online resource for 'natural capital'

23 January 2020

DEFRA has launched a new online resource "to help ensure better environmental decision-making by valuing our 'natural capital'".  The 'Enabling a Natural Capital Approach' (ENCA) resource is available on the GOV.UK website and brings together guidance, data, analytical tools and case studies to "help policy makers, businesses, landowners and public sector organisations make better planning decisions in order to protect and boost natural capital."

England's Environmental Bodies outline shared vision on tackling climate change

23 January 2020

The Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and Natural England have outlined a shared "vision" and practical actions to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies, in response to the Committee on Climate Change's "Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK" report published today.

RPA issues update on BPS, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship 2019 Payments and 2020 Plans

22 January 2020

The RPA has issued a Press Release giving an update on progress with making BPS, Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) 2019 payments, as well as indicative 2020 plans for all of these schemes . The key points are summarised below:-

  • Almost 97% of eligible BPS claimants should have received a BPS 2019 payment by 20th January 2020 (overall worth of £1.69 billion);
  • £109 million of CS/ES 2019 payments made (more than double what was paid out by this time last year);
  • BPS 2020 application window, as well as CS and ES annual revenue claim window should open in March 2020;
  • CS application window for agreements with a 1st January 2021 start date should open in February 2020.

Beware dangers of telecoms masts

21 January 2020

Landowners are being warned of the hidden risks and responsibilities associated with having telecommunications masts on their land.

The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) is urging landowners to request information on radiation exclusion zones from operators of telecoms masts located on their land.

Though non-ionising, significant levels of exposure to the radio waves emitted by base stations on telecoms masts can affect health, requiring exclusion zones to protect people, says Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV. With the roll out of 5G, these exclusion zones will be expanded significantly as the range of potentially dangerous radio waves is far greater than for 4G.

Although guidelines for these exclusion zones; set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP), are mandatory in the UK, mast operators are only required to self-certificate compliance when they make a planning application. The government does not require operators to give details of zones to those they affect.

The guidelines state that exclusion zones for workers and the public should be mapped by the operator. Exclusion zones are typically governed by the direction of the mast and the power being used, and are usually above ground level, with height exclusion depending on the height of the antennae. However, there is no requirement for operators to notify owners, site neighbours or the public of these areas.

“Usually, that means that nobody but the operator knows the areas in which people might be at risk and so cannot manage liabilities,” says Mr Moody. Ofcom, the industry regulator, has no duties related to exposure to electromagnetic field emissions.

When applying for planning permission for a larger mast, operators are only required to confirm the mast will comply with ICNIRP guidelines and do not have to disclose the exclusion boundaries; meaning that neither the owner nor the planning authority is able to assess the effect of the mast on buildings, land or other activities.

Furthermore, not even this declaration is required where the mast is within permitted development rights.  Similarly, where a mast is upgraded from 4G to 5G, the operator does not have to make this declaration or even highlight the increased size of exclusion zones.

For landowners, this means there can be unforeseen issues with buildings, which could be within the exclusion zone unbeknown to the site owner, potentially putting workers or visitors at risk.

It can limit the construction of new buildings both on the site owner’s land and on neighbouring sites, as an exclusion zone can extend beyond a site’s boundaries. However, the landowner and the planning office are unlikely to be aware of the extent of the exclusion zone.

“Landowners may also find themselves in a difficult situation whereby existing buildings are made redundant by exclusion zones,” says Mr Moody. “As landowners are not permitted to request the removal of apparatus from their land on these grounds, this could potentially cause costly issues whether sterilising the use of land or carrying liability.”

“In addition, providing a safe working environment for employees is a legal requirement of any employer, so any landowner with employees needs to take account of potential hazards for those working,” he adds.  It’s therefore important to obtain full ICNIRP drawings and site-specific radio frequency plans so that the exclusion zone can be understood and to comply with legal obligations.

“It’s also important to ask for information on any upgrades to the mast, such as from 4G to 5G,” advises Mr Moody. “Should an operator refuse to supply this information to the site provider, this should be cause for concern.”

Many older agreements passed responsibilities to the landowner, often without their knowledge, so it’s vital if negotiating a new agreement that landowners are aware of the issues. Terms should hold the operator fully liable for losses and claims arising from the mast, he explains.

Additionally, site owners may wish to stipulate contractual terms restricting the expansion of exclusion zones, require the site to be switched off for the landowner or others to carry out work within the exclusion zone and make operators liable for any necessary staff training.

“Landowners may be entirely unaware of the situations they are in, which could lead to all sorts of issues down the line,” warns Mr Moody. “It may be a shocking revelation to a lot of people and I would suggest getting advice and taking action if you are affected.”

Village Halls have received £1.2 million funding under Government Grant Scheme

21 January 2020

Village halls in England have received £1.2 million funding to assist with improvements such as roof repairs, refurbishing kitchens and creating new meeting rooms. This funding has been provided as part of the Government's Village Halls Improvement Grant Scheme which has a total fund of £3 million available. Applications can still be made for grants of up to £75,000 (20% of the total eligible costs of a project). Further information on applying can be found on the Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) website.

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