06 July 2022

Burges Salmon has released a new report in which various experts across the rural land use sector have been interviewed about the speed of change surrounding all things related to Net Zero and the concepts that fit under its umbrella, and what those involved in rural land use can do about it.

Rural land will play a key part in meeting the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target, and the impact of this is becoming increasingly visible. Many people involved in this sector are thinking hard about how it may affect them. Some are taking steps now, others are biding their time, but it is in the minds of most people. There is now widespread national acceptance that fundamental change is necessary to achieving this and wide interest surrounding the application of Net Zero targets to rural land use.

With the debate about how rural land will be affected by decarbonisation in this sector gaining momentum, Burges Salmon has interviewed a number of experts involved across a broad spectrum of rural land use – landowning, farming, food production, investment, a charity and academia. These include:

  • Rebecca Hehir, Head of Communications, Yeo Valley Organic
  • Paul Sedgwick, Managing Director of Windsor & Rural and Deputy Ranger of the Windsor Estate, The Crown Estate
  • Rich Stockdale, Managing Director, Oxygen Conservation
  • Georgina Thomas, ESG Associate, The Cibus Funds
  • James Townshend, Executive Chairman, Velcourt 
  • Dr Andy Wilcox, Head of Agriculture and Environment Department, Harper Adams University

These interviewees answered a wide range of questions around the themes of how Net Zero ambitions could be practically achieved, how they might be financed and the sector-specific opportunities (and challenges) facing rural land. The report covers routes to Net Zero for individuals and organisations; thinking about Net Zero in the context of uncertainty and how the sector will move forward; the best positions to take in approaching opportunities and challenges; benefits to embracing a Net Zero approach despite the fact that these may not always be financial.

The interviewees’ responses show a diverse range of opinion and provide valuable insight. The report summarising these findings is designed to stimulate further thinking and discussion on the subject.

Burges Salmon partner and agricultural specialist Kevin Kennedy comments: “We hope that this report acts as a springboard to stimulate discussion and productive further thinking for anyone involved with rural land…”

I remain inspired that the interviewees are upbeat about the overall potential for change and pragmatic about the need to encourage widespread adoption across the sector – this report will doubtlessly stimulate the discussion and forward-thinking on the subject.”

Paul Sedgwick, Managing Director of Windsor & Rural and Deputy Ranger of the Windsor Estate, The Crown Estate, comments: “I’ve been doing my job nearly 30 years and this is one of the most exciting and challenging times there has ever been for land ownership. I see a lot of opportunities coming for those that want to go out and grab them.”

Georgina Thomas, ESG associate at The Cibus Funds, comments: “There’s a sense of pride in creating a business that not only makes money, but also has beneficial environmental or social impact. I think there’s a lot of passion that comes out of people who’ve been able to support and build a company that grows things in a sustainable way.”

Burges Salmon advises on all legal matters arising from rural land and has an unrivalled breadth of expertise dealing with all aspects of rural land ownership and use, whether acting for institutions, estates, land-owning or tenant farmers, charities, contractors, investors or food producers. Our multi-sector teams deliver Net Zero legal solutions through market-leading expertise and experience in the key sectors that will need to come together to decarbonise including: transport, energy, land & food, and the built environment.

With in-depth knowledge of regulation across the four key sectors, we are able to facilitate cross-sector discussions and are uniquely positioned to advise on the policies, regulation, strategies and projects that will need to be developed and implemented by the private and public sectors.

Key contact

Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy Partner

  • Estates and Land
  • Private Wealth
  • Agricultural Disputes

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