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CAAV News - 2020

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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.

Agriculture Bill is a monumental step

16 January 2020

The return of the Agriculture Bill is a welcome announcement for farmers and the entire industry; giving shape to developing post-Brexit policy in England.

“This is a monumental moment for agriculture,” says Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). “This passing of the Agriculture Bill will be our generation’s 1947 moment; where we have a life changing opportunity to review the national expectations of agriculture and set out the tools and support to achieve this.”

Notably the Bill has recognised the importance of soil quality as a ‘public good’ which can be supported by the money being moved away from Basic Payment. “This is a really positive step and we can now look forward to seeing how this will be delivered,” says Mr Moody.

“The new policies, moving more towards creating market in food production, land use and the environment, will open up enormous changes for the industry. However, many producers are focused on what will happen with trade and this is an area on which farmers should keep one eye with their own businesses in mind.”

The clear transition window for phasing out BPS from 2021 to 2027 means changes can be implemented sensibly.

“This timeframe is vital for farmers and their advisers to review their businesses, using the time to plan for the eroding of BPS, and handle and deliver the necessary changes,” says Mr Moody. “The budget for farming has been guaranteed for the next five years, but regardless of this, attention needs to be turned to business improvement and efficiency, skills and innovation investment, new enterprises and generational changes.

“Letting land out to the right people should be a key part of the changes we see under the Agriculture Bill, but we wait to see what the modernisation of tenancies will entail,” he adds.

Preparing for these changes is bigger than Defra and will involve all associated with the industry. “The CAAV is part of these changes and its members, as trusted practical advisers to farmers and landowners, are ready to assist in the complex discussion, decisions and actions needed on each farm as we make a new future,” says Mr Moody.

“This is the starting gun. Action and movement need to happen in the sector. The time of indecisiveness is over and now is the moment for change.”

 

Agriculture Bill to be introduced into Parliament

16 January 2020

The Agriculture Bill is to be introduced into Parliament later today. A news release is available on the GOV.UK website. It will give the legislative framework for aspects including:-

  • Phasing out direct payments over the seven year "agricultural transition" period which will start from next year (2021) and see direct payments reduced to nil by 2028;
  • "Later in the agricultural transition", "de-link" direct payments, removing the need to "farm the land" to receive payment; and
  • Paying farmers for the delivery of "public goods";

Edwin Poots named as Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister

14 January 2020

Edwin Poots, DUP MLA for Lagan Valley, has been appointed as Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Theresa Villiers delivers speech at Oxford Farming Conference

08 January 2020

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Teresa Villers MP, has delivered a speech, 'A vision for future farming', at the Oxford Farming Conference earlier today. The speech can be viewed on the GOV.UK website.

Extended Farming Recovery Fund opens for applications

06 January 2020

The Government confirmed in November 2019 that the Farming Recovery Fund would be extended for farmers affected by flooding in parts of South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and the Midlands. This extended fund opens for applications today (6th January) and farmers can apply for grants of between £500 and £25,000 to assist with repair costs, re-cultivation and replacing items such as damaged gates. The close date for applications to this extended fund is 31st July 2020. A news release on the GOV.UK website gives further details. The application form and Handbook are due to be published on the GOV.UK website later today.

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