27 September 2023

Case Study

The Summary

Oxygen Conservation was founded with the ambitious aim of tackling the climate emergency and biodiversity collapse. They achieve this by purchasing and managing land at scale across the UK to protect and restore natural processes. They also pioneer impactful sustainable land management and regenerative agriculture, engage with local communities and undertake green revenue generation projects.

Since Oxygen Conservation’s formation in June 2021, we have been involved in this dynamic journey and instructed to act on the acquisition of all ten of its beautiful and diverse sites around the British Isles, together spanning nearly 30,000 acres. From the glens of the Scottish Highlands to some of the country’s most extensive tracts of ancient Atlantic rainforest in the Leighon Estate on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, each site brings different opportunities and challenges and has enabled Oxygen Conservation to pursue a wide variety of environmental and social impact projects.

Across all ten acquisitions, our Estates and Land team has worked at pace to advise on deal structures, carry out legal due diligence and negotiate contract and transfer documents that take full account of the uniqueness of each site and the diversity of assets that each present. Burges Salmon has also provided specialist advice on employment, intellectual property, environmental, energy, planning, and tax issues.

Buying large-scale rural landholdings can pose several challenges. Often land has been in the same ownership for significant periods of time (sometimes hundreds of years) and practices may have arisen without formal records or documentation. The land may be unregistered and therefore involve the investigation of complicated historic title deeds; the seller may never have seen the need to formalise occupational arrangements or matters relating to private access, water and drainage. At the same time, there may be issues that are uniquely important to a seller that require to be dealt with sensitively. They may also need to impose tight timescales to tie in with their own onward commitments.

During each transaction we have worked collaboratively and creatively with Oxygen Conservation’s team to devise strategies for dealing with these challenges and turning them into opportunities. Our joint approach is to be open and honest about issues as they arise and to raise and address them in a timely manner. We appreciate Oxygen Conservation’s decisiveness and clarity of thought which allows us to work swiftly to deliver on their ambitions. 

Why us?

Burges Salmon’s ESG credentials were a perfect fit for Oxygen Conservation and were a key factor in Oxygen Conservation’s decision to select Burges Salmon when it originally ran a request for proposal process to select a law firm to act on its initial acquisitions. We have a dedicated team of lawyers who have worked closely with Oxygen Conservation to devise innovative ways of achieving their goals at pace and overcoming the unusual and complex legal challenges that can arise in the context of large-scale rural land acquisition.

Further, like Oxygen Conservation, sustainable forward-thinking is embedded within our culture. As a responsible business, positively impacting the environment and the communities we operate in is a moral and business imperative, and we are proud to be part of their vision.

Rich Stockdale, managing director & founder, Oxygen Conservation explains:None of the land acquisitions we have completed would have been possible without Burges Salmon’s expertise and timely advice. Buying land at scale in rural communities is difficult. It can be complicated and confusing but Ross and the team at Burges Salmon have helped us to achieve what many said wasn’t possible.

George Pawley, Head of Legal at Oxygen Conservation notes:“Burges Salmon’s lawyers, led by Ross Simpson, have gone above and beyond to help us secure our first ten sites. They have become a genuine extension of our own team by taking the time to really understand how we like to work and representing us in an incredibly professional, diligent and positive manner. It is a real asset that they have a number of solicitors who are able to advise on transactions both north and south of the border to such a high standard.”

Ross Simpson, partner, Burges Salmon adds:“Working with such committed, driven individuals has been very fulfilling for the entire Burges Salmon team. We are incredibly excited to see how Oxygen Conservation is going to transform and enrich these 10 very special sites and look forward to continuing to support their journey and ambition in terms of redefining what it means to do conservation.”


Our partnership has helped support the work of Oxygen Conservation on many potentially transformative and valuable projects. The approach at the Leighon Estate, mentioned above, and other sites has initially been one of passive custodianship which facilitates the natural restoration of the landscape and gives the Oxygen Conservation team the opportunity to formulate the conservation strategies which will ensure they maximise the potential environmental and social impact at each unique site. At another nearby site in Exmoor, they are working in partnership with an established (17th generation) farming family to create a new innovate approach to fully organic, regenerative farming alongside 100 acres of new native woodland.

Oxygen Conservation’s two latest acquisitions comprised complex estates with a combined acreage of over 1,400 acres. They included a number of residential properties and glamping facilities which will offer wonderful ecotourism opportunities for visitors and guests to connect with nature sustainably. 

In less than two years, Oxygen Conservation’s portfolio has grown to nearly 30,000 acres across eight counties in three countries. This is an incredible achievement and testament to the hard work and incredible vision of the high performing team at Oxygen Conservation. We know this is just the start, and we are incredibly excited to continue to support Oxygen Conservation in the next phase of its future acquisition plans as it continues to grow and diversify its portfolio.

As we mark the tenth land acquisition, members of the team at Burges Salmon reflect on their experience of working with Oxygen Conservation:

Kate Seymour, director, Burges Salmon says:I have felt incredibly fortunate to work alongside the Oxygen Conservation team on such potentially transformative and valuable projects, and we are really looking forward to supporting them in the next phase of their future acquisitions.”

Sarah Stewart, senior associate, Burges Salmon says:It was a pleasure to be involved in the acquisition and financing of Blackburn and Hartsgarth in the Scottish Borders and to be able to support the Oxygen Conservation team in achieving their goals of tackling the climate emergency and biodiversity collapse by scaling conservation.”

Fay Lamb, associate, Burges Salmon says:It was a privilege working alongside the Oxygen Conservation team in the acquisition and subsequent financing of Invergeldie Estate in Perthshire. Oxygen Conservation’s passion for the environment and delivering positive impact can be felt throughout all stages of transactions, and we are glad to play a small part in the valuable work that they do.”

Key contact

Ross Simpson

Ross Simpson Partner

  • Real Estate
  • Estates and Land
  • Food and Farming

Natural Capital and Sustainable Land Use

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