Landowners and farmers are key to tackling the UK’s environmental crisis


A new study from environmental consultancy EPR finds that despite delays in UK environmental legislation, farmers can undertake environmental recovery efforts by taking advantage of the existing incentive scheme.

Farmers and rural landowners now have a vital role to play in the UK’s environmental restoration. That’s according to a new report from environmental planning consultancy EPR (Ecological Planning & Research) Ltd, which calls on landowners across all sectors to consider the environmental and financial opportunities that current and new legislation presents for their lands.

The business case for farmland owners has already begun to shift in favor of the environment with the emergence of the Farm Bill, the Environment Bill and a new broader definition of agriculture which encompasses the cultivation of a healthy environment.

While the UK government has pledged to match the payments farmers would receive from the EU for two years after Brexit, once this transition period is over the only subsidies a farm owner will receive will come from the supply of “public goods”. Restoration and the creation of a healthy environment must therefore become a central part of the business operations of many farms.

Despite the delays in this promised environmental legislation, there are several additional incentives and programs open to landowners looking to make positive nature-based changes now. However, the current low turnout shows that the complexity of these incentives is a barrier and is compounded by a reluctance to engage before the government provides clarification on the draft environment law and management program land environment.

In response to this obvious need for clarity, in “A business case for cultivating natural capital“, EPR outlines the business and environmental case for natural assets, the opportunities available, and advises landowners in all sectors on the steps they can take now to bring lasting gains to our environment through their estate. The report also presents examples where multiple programs can be operated simultaneously to generate the greatest benefit for local flora and fauna, as well as the greatest financial reward for the landowner.

“Some of the boldest and most proactive voices in the fight for our environment are coming from the private sector,” says Karen Colebourn, Director and Senior Ecologist, EPR, “Innovative individuals and companies, backed by growing public sentiment more favourable, have responded to the UK’s environmental crisis by recognizing the ability of their land to deliver a wide range of benefits, including carbon capture, flood control, pollution reduction and restoration of However, in the absence of promised legislation, these companies need financial and technical clarity to present their proposals.

Karen continued: “Unfortunately, many ambitious homeowners looking to improve the environment feel they have been left without government direction, because despite being on the table for over two years, the bill on the environment, with its commitment to a net gain in biodiversity, has yet to be heard in the Commons. Similarly, the proposed environmental land management program to reward “public goods,” as described in the farm bill, is not expected to be rolled out until the end of this decade.

“However, incentive programs for landowners seeking to provide ecosystem services such as carbon capture and net biodiversity gain are already available – albeit under-reported. These programs can unlock funding and leverage private sector to drive environmental restoration and management now, regardless of how the bills progress.

“These forward-thinking landowners need guidance on what programs are available in their area, what programs overlap, and how to understand the opportunities their lands could present – ​​to benefit the environment and their business. This is precisely what we sought to do with our latest report.

You can download the new EPR report, “A business case for cultivating natural capital‘, the second in a series dealing with UK biodiversity legislation and the opportunities it presents here.


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