March 20, 2015

Conservation covenants – what do they mean?

Posted in Agriculture

A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a responsible body, which is usually a charity public body or local/central government. The agreement effectively records the landlord’s intention to do or not to do something on their land for conservation purposes. Typically, this might include the maintenance of woodland and allowing public access to it or refraining from certain practices, like using certain pesticides and so forth.

The suggestion is that these agreements are long lasting, which will continue after the landowner has parted with the land either by sale or following their death.

The concept is not a new one, as conservation covenants are used in many other jurisdictions, but currently they do not exist in England and Wales. The Government’s interim response welcomes the commission’s proposals, but at present, these proposals do not form part of the Government’s legislative program.

While the use of conservation covenants would clearly help to enhance our natural landscapes, it will be interesting to see what appetite there is for these agreements from an industry pushed towards conservation in terms of land management and practices, yet continually told to be more commercial in their outlook. Often landowners are keen to adopt conservation projects perhaps financial incentives and tax reliefs might make the prospect more attractive.

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