The Future of Agricultural Policy | Aardvark Environment Matters

The Future of Agricultural Policy

by Kirsty Lodge


The Government anticipates that after formally leaving the EU in March 2019, they will agree an implementation period for the whole country with the EU lasting for around another two years.

Once we have the freedom to move away from the EU CAP, there will be an 'agricultural transition' period in England. As part of this transition, the Government propose the following changes in regards to current payment schemes:

  • To continue payments, including 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) until 'agricultural transition'
  • Direct Payments continued during the 'agricultural transition', with reductions in payments being made, starting with those receiving the highest payments, to fund pilots of environmental land management schemes
  • After the 'agricultural transition', it is proposed that Direct Payments will end in England and be replaced with a system of public money for public goods, principally environmental enhancement

The Government recognise that some sectors may find it more difficult to adapt, such as upland and remote areas, due to their restricted farming practices. A clear vision for the uplands will need to be established.

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Environmental land management schemes

From 2022 onward, a new environmental land management system will be the cornerstone of agricultural and land management policy and could include some or all of the following:

Environmental land management schemes

  • Multi-annual agreements to support the delivery of environmental improvements countrywide
  • Enhanced support and continued funding for technical advice for projects which meet national priorities and require complex, place-specific management (such as wetland and woodland creation, or peatland restoration)

Funding for collaborative projects

  • Incentivising land managers to work together to secure environmental improvements at landscape and catchment level such as diffuse water pollution and protection of priority habitats

Capital grants

  • Land managers to adopt sustainable practices and reduce negative environmental impacts and transition towards a ?polluter pays? principle

'User friendly' design

  • Improve scheme administration and participant experience. Investigate rolling monthly start dates to agreements, monthly payments and other actions which can reduce paperwork

Innovative mechanisms

  • Could include reverse auctions, tendering, conservation covenants and actions which encourage private investment in natural capital
  • Further investigate different payment options through these mechanisms, with the potential to offer fair rewards and strong incentives for participation, in return for increased levels of public benefits from improved environmental outcomes.

Other notable proposals include reform of the current regulatory system (once outside the CAP), to an inspection and enforcement regime which is more targeted and proportionate. There is also an encouraging drive towards innovation, such as exploration of collaborative research ventures involving farmers and other partners to develop a new generation of agricultural technology and promote bespoke technological solutions moving forward.


Are environmental land management schemes deliverable?

The environmental land management scheme examples set out in the Government?s consultation are nothing new. Aardvark has been involved in setting up Natural Capital deals for landowners and developers for a number of years including off-site flood defences which help unlock residential development land.

The flood alleviation dam outside of Taunton, Somerset, which is managed by Aardvark on a 24/7 contract, controls the flow of water from a large surface catchment area on the edge of Exmoor mitigating flood risk in an area known for flooding historically but also identified as an important strategic growth area for residential development. The Natural Capital contract drawn up allows the farmer to continue to use the land for agricultural purposes during times of low flood risk and through a flood early warning system provides flood water capacity. A structured compensation payment system allows the land to be readily ?available? to provide emergency flood compensation capacity at all times especially in extreme rainfall events. 

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The project which is financed by a consortium of housebuilders, has sufficiently mitigated the risk of flooding on the west side of Taunton thereby lifting the constraint on the development of the residential sites. This is a positive example of proactive environmental land management working with developers to bring forward sites that would otherwise be heavily constrained by food risk.

With the proposed reform of the Agricultural Policy, it is likely that collaborative projects such as this will become more common within the farming sector.

Working across the UK for farmers and landowners, Aardvark has built a successful reputation founded on our extensive experience for delivering innovative projects in the agricultural sector. We recognise the need for a clear understanding of our client?s objectives and use our extensive experience to provide practical and sustainable solutions.

If you would like to enquire about potential projects or opportunities which may be of interest, please get in touch.


Aardvark EM Ltd offers the following services;

  • Site Visits and Feasibility Studies
  • Preparation and Submission of Planning Applications
  • Permitted Development Rights and Prior Notifications
  • Liaison with Local Authorities and Key Stakeholders
  • Planning Appeals and Expert Witness
  • Waste Management and Environmental Permitting
  • Natural Capital, Flood Risk and Contaminated Land
  • Carbon Management
  • Environmental Compliance and Auditing
  • Technical and Financial Due Diligence
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Surveying, Mapping and 3D Visualisation

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