Scrutton Bland Agriculture Update

Wet, Wet, Wet – Changes to water

abstraction on the way 2018 will see changes to water abstraction licences. New regulations will require farmers and land owners to apply for a water resources abstraction license from the Environment Agency where more than 20 cubic metres of water is abstracted each day to be used for an activity that was previously exempt from licensing. For farmers in low rainfall regions such as East Anglia this may mean they now need a license for activities including trickle (or drip) irrigation, and other forms of horticultural irrigations such as flood irrigation of cultivated land, or hydroponics. Farmers who wish to sell water from their land to a neighbouring farm will also need to take guidance and advice on the new water management rules. For farmers intending to set up a new abstraction, or planning to increase their current volumes of water abstraction, they will need to have a new licence in place before extraction can commence or increase. More information is available from the Environment Agency

D efra forestry minister Thérèse Coffey recently announced a scheme to boost the timber sector, reduce flood risk and encourage the planting of more than three million trees across the UK. Landowners who apply for the scheme will be offered up to £6,800 per hectare, and the minimum threshold for applications has been reduced from 30 hectares to 10 hectares to encourage more farmers and landowners to take advantage of the scheme. According to Ms Coffrey: “Our forests and woodlands are vital for providing timber, improving the environment and protecting our wildlife. The announcement demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to the forestry sector and to biodiversity, which afforestation delivers.”

The fund falls under the Countryside Stewardship scheme as part of discussions surrounding potential opportunities for Brexit. Application forms are now available from DEFRA and the fund is open from January 2018. “This could be a great time to be investing in woodland creation,” commented Gavin Birchall, Tax Partner at Scrutton Bland. “Creating woodland has a number of tax benefits, and if managed on a commercial basis there are possible tax benefits for Income Tax, Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax. However these reliefs are not always straightforward and we recommend that you speak to a tax professional and independent financial planner before any decisions are made. At Scrutton Bland we provide a joined up solution for clients and this advice can be provided concurrently for effectiveness.” More information on the funding options is available from the Forestry Commission website. For more information on tax advice please contact gavin.birchall@scruttonbland.co.uk or tel 01206 838400.

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