The Agricultural Law Team of Thompson Smith & Puxon Solicitors hosted an intensive seminar chaired by Geoff Whittaker, Editor of the Agricultural Law Association Bulletin, and Consultant and Adviser on agricultural topics at Colchester on 22nd February. The seminar was shared with local land agents and surveyors, the Ipswich branch of Robinson & Hall, and Stanfords of Colchester, who also run Colchester Livestock Market.
The three firms each have, and often share, an extensive local clientele. As well as honing delegates’ current knowledge, the seminar was designed to provoke discussion about changes looming in several key areas.
Needless to say, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) featured prominently. The present CAP arrangements end next year and reforms are now under discussion for the period to 2020. Farmers are likely to be allocated new entitlements based on the land declared in a particular year and payment will consist of a basic element (“the Basic Payment Scheme”) plus an additional amount subject to “greening conditions”.
The Campaign for the Farmed Environment is also due for review in 2012, and delegates agreed that the industry will have to take this issue seriously to avoid regulation.
Water Abstraction inevitably came up for discussion. DEFRA’s Water for Life and The Environment Agency’s Case for Change were published in December 2011 and it was clear that change was on the way, driven by climate change and population growth - “we shall run out of water before we run out of oil” – was a memorable remark from a Nestlé study.
The consultation paper on the Nitrates Directive produced by DEFRA last December was also discussed. Consultation is open until March 2012 and new regulations will be in place from 1 January 2013.
The afternoon closed with discussion on the Localism Act 2011; it is probably the case that the greatest impact on rural communities will be those provisions relating to Community Rights and Neighbourhood Rights.
Overall, a lively and informative agricultural law seminar, which left delegates from each of the three firms with much food for thought, but looking forward to responding to their clients’ needs over these complex issues.
David Brooks, Partner and Head of Ipswich Rural Business at Robinson and Hall, can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or by calling 01473 835250.
Graham Ellis, Stanfords, can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01206 842156.