The speed of change surrounding all things related to Net Zero and the many concepts that fit under its umbrella – natural capital, decarbonisation, sustainable and regenerative farming, biodiversity net gain, rewilding, carbon offsetting, peatland restoration – is huge.

What went from something seen as a fringe interest has become mainstream and is now an emerging focus of government support. This is energising those involved in rural land to ask the question: “What should we do about it?”

Although the opportunities are great, the challenge for many of these projects is in finding a way to harness the benefits in a legally enforceable way. Moreover, new policies and regulations, and an increasing public awareness around these types of issues, have the potential to cause financial and reputational damage for those not managing these projects appropriately.

How can we help?

Although some of the terminology might be new, experts in our leading Net Zero, Environmental and agriculture and estates practices have been advising our clients on sustainable land use projects for decades and are truly at the forefront of this sector. We have a wide breadth and depth of experience helping landowners, institutions, corporates, brokers, utilities and public bodies avoid the legal pitfalls of these type of schemes, whilst maximising the opportunities that can come from nature based solutions to climate change.

Whatever the nature of your project, we can provide you with a dedicated team of experts to meet your requirements, bringing together lawyers as required from our real estate, planning and compulsory purchase, environment, corporate, dispute resolution, private client and finance teams. 

Areas of focus

We have considerable expertise advising on:

  • The purchase and sale of land for natural capital projects including conservation and rewilding
  • Regenerative agriculture schemes including in the context of share farming structures
  • Drafting offset agreements to deal with brokerage arrangements, landowner due diligence, project establishment and maintenance, offsetting validation and monitoring
  • Tenanted holdings and relevant soil health maintenance and enhancement agreements
  • Schemes involving biodiversity and habitats issues including biodiversity net gain and offsetting requirements
  • Consenting issues for local planning authorities
  • Environmental credit sale agreements and guiding clients through emerging legislation and practices
  • Environmental credit schemes such as the Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code
Whether this is your first venture into natural capital, or you are looking for advice on your existing projects, get in touch to discuss how we can help you achieve your sustainability aspirations.

Charitable foundation

Acting on the acquisition of a large number of farms and estates with the intent of creating a UK wide portfolio of innovative land projects associated with rewilding and regenerative agricultural practices by repurposing land through habitat creation / restoration, biodiversity net gain and carbon sequestration schemes and participating in environmental credit markets.

A start-up business

Drafting a suite of documents for a project to acquire land alongside High-Net-Worth individuals and repurpose it for carbon offsetting, agri-environment and natural capital projects.

Conservation purchase

Acting on the acquisition of a large mixed-use Scottish estate, bought for conservation purposes, subject to very tight timescales and commended by land agents for our efficient handling and expert advice.

Institutional landowner

Advising on an extensive portfolio of agricultural tenanted holdings to build soil health maintenance and enhancement into their precedent tenancy agreements.

The Government

Advising on all aspects of setting up an innovative double-blind auction in relation to environmental credits (arising from the Energy Company obligation placed on energy companies).

Water utility

Advising a major water company in relation to the carrying out of peatland restoration work involving a consortium of landowners and the registration and allocation of peatland carbon units.

Charity & a non-departmental public body

Advising on the delivery of significant environmental improvements to the River Severn (the largest project of its kind in Europe).

Major UK forestry organisation

Advising on developing its carbon offsetting brokerage scheme introducing landowners to corporates to help offset carbon through tree planting.

Meet the team
Ross Simpson

Ross Simpson Partner

  • Real Estate
  • Estates and Land
  • Food and Farming
Emma Folkes

Emma Folkes Partner

  • Head of Rural Property
  • Estates and Land
  • Food and Farming
Michael Barlow

Michael Barlow Partner

  • Head of Environment
  • Head of Water
  • Head of ESG
Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy Partner

  • Agricultural Disputes
  • Trust and Probate Disputes
  • Estates and Land
Ross Fairley

Ross Fairley Partner

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Head of Renewable Energy
  • Environment
Tom Hewitt

Tom Hewitt Partner

  • Private Wealth
  • Head of Estates and Land
  • Head of Food and Farming
Jim Aveline

Jim Aveline Partner

  • Private Client Services
  • Family Offices and Family Businesses
  • Food and Farming

What others say...

Vibrant, proactive, personable and engaging – quick to respond and they know their stuff inside out. Well-resourced team. Meetings were slick, regular, productive and accountable. In-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the law. Advice was faultless and resulted in complete confidence in our legal team and subsequently the wider team acting on the transaction, creating a great ethos and ultimately a fantastic result for the client.

Client quote, Legal 500

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