Scottish Government introduces new land reform legislation with major implications for landowners

On 13th March 2024, the Scottish Government introduced the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill. The aim of this Bill is to reform the law around large landholdings and certain types of leases of land. The controversial Bill includes measures for landholding over 1,000 hectares including potentially prohibiting the sale of the land until Ministers have been consulted and the impact on the local community assessed.

Landholdings of over 1,000 hectares account for over 50% of Scotland’s land so this Bill could potentially have drastic effects on how land is managed. If a sale of a landholding over 1,000 hectares is deemed by the ministers to have a negative impact on local communities, the land could be divided into smaller portions. This would allow for communities to purchase smaller land areas and provide opportunities for other parties who would not be able to purchase land otherwise to have the chance of land ownership.

To tackle climate change and reach net zero, many landowners throughout the country have started work on peatland restoration projects, woodland creation, riparian woodland and more regenerative and environmentally friendly farming practices. If large landholdings are broken down into smaller parcels, there is a risk that these current cohesive and large scale projects will be slowed due to minister intervention and the requirement for agreements to be made between multiple landowners. This will potentially slow down the progress that is already being made to reach net zero.

The Bill also puts legal responsibilities on landowners to demonstrate how their land is being used to address public policy priorities, contributing to nature restoration and reducing the impact climate change. Many landowners are already managing their land in a way to address these issues already. There will be the requirement for landowners to engage with local communities about how they use the land.

The Bill also sheds light on a proposed new tenancy model called a “Land Management Tenancy” which the Ministers will publish, this is to support tenancy to manage the land within their tenancies in ways that meet their needs as well as the nation’s. Measures are also included to reform tenant farming, increase sustainability and productivity and to compensate tenants at the end of their agreements for their investment of time and resources.

The Bill can be read in full here.

The Scottish Government has also published the report on the findings of a consultation held as part of a Strategic Environmental Assessment of agricultural tenancies, small landholdings and land management tenancy proposals. Within this report it is stated that many respondents noted that there needs to be a balance between tenants’ rights and landlords’ long term security. The respondents have also stated that further guidance and consultation is needed regarded a new tenancy model.

The report and findings can be read here.

Our people

Hamish Hope

Hamish Hope

Surveyor, MRICS
Land Management
Tel: 01463 717 799

About: Hamish is an experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer, working across the Highlands with a focus on rural estate management from traditional sporting estates to diversifications. He is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University with MSc Real Estate Management and Investment. Interests: Estate Management, Sales & Lettings, Valuations, Domestic Energy Assessments.

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    Important Update: Changes in Scotland’s Private Rented Sector

    Since September 2022, there have been regulations in place to control rent increases and safeguard against evictions for privately let residential properties, established under the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022. However, effective April 1st, 2024, these restrictions, including the 3% rent increase cap, will be lifted.

    To mitigate the risk of significant rent hikes, pending parliamentary approval, the process for rent adjudication will be temporarily adjusted for one year, starting April 1st, 2024. This adjustment aims to provide a fair approach to resolving rent disputes during this transitional period.

    Here’s what landlords need to know about rent reviews in April:

    Private residential tenants can dispute a rent increase, with disputes reviewed by Rent Service Scotland or the First-tier Tribunal.

    Rent will be determined based on the lowest of three figures: the open market rate, the rent requested by the landlord, and a comparator based on the difference between the market rate and the current rate.

    Proposed regulations necessitate the use of a rent taper formula if a tenant applies for rent adjudication:

    *If the rent increase is 6% or less than the market rent, the landlord can increase the rent by the proposed amount.

    *If the gap between the market rent and the current rent exceeds 6%, the landlord can increase it by 6% plus 0.33% for each percent that the gap exceeds 6%. The total rent increase cannot exceed 12%.

    Read the Rent Adjudication (Temporary Modifications)(Scotland) Regulations 2024 here..

    As demand for rented property rises, many privately let properties with existing tenants now have below-market rent due to the 3% cap in place since 2022. This is likely to lead to widespread rent increases across the country, although the full impact on the market remains to be seen.

    Before these restrictions are lifted, further changes are set to take effect on March 1st, 2024, with new measures being added to the Repairing Standard, which applies to all privately let residential properties and Short Term Lets. These include:

    *Safe Kitchens

    *Fixed Heating System

    *Safe Access to Common Parts

    *Consent to Work on Common Parts

    *Safe and Secure Common Doors

    *Residual Current Devices

    *Properties must be free of lead pipes, or a water quality test must be carried out.

    *Other fuels, such as oil installations, must meet the same repair standards as gas and electricity installations.

    For full information regarding the changes to the Repairing Standard, click here. While many properties will already meet these additional requirements, there is a risk, primarily to older tenancies, that may not meet the new requirements, necessitating additional works.

    For further discussions on how these changes affect your property, please contact our professional letting agents at Bell Ingram.

    Our people

    Hamish Hope

    Hamish Hope

    Surveyor, MRICS
    Land Management
    Tel: 01463 717 799

    About: Hamish is an experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer, working across the Highlands with a focus on rural estate management from traditional sporting estates to diversifications. He is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University with MSc Real Estate Management and Investment. Interests: Estate Management, Sales & Lettings, Valuations, Domestic Energy Assessments.

    Get in touch

    We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

      Heat in Buildings Bill – Potential impact on privately let residential properties in Scotland

      Anyone involved in Scottish residential property management has been growing increasingly frustrated by the limited information available around the reform of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in Scotland.

      Initial legislation was drafted in 2019 but binned in 2021 due to Covid, and since then landlords and property managers have been left in limbo, knowing that changes to the minimum standard are coming but not knowing when they might come into force or what they might involve.

      However, more detail emerged this week when the Scottish Government opened the consultation on the proposals for Heat in Buildings Bill.

      This consultation confirms that the Government plans to require private landlords to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard by the end of 2028, and by the end of 2033 owner occupied homes will also need to meet a minimum energy efficiency standards.

      So, what will the minimum energy efficiency standard be?

      For years now, it has been known that a minimum EPC score is incoming but there has been a lack of clarity on how this might be achieved, and if there are going to be any exclusions or if there is going to be a price cap.

      This new consultation proposes that minimum energy efficiency standards can be met by installing a straightforward list of measures. This list would be developed to ensure the biggest impact with the lowest degree of cost and disruption. It is important to note that the consultation says:

      “Any homeowner who had installed these measures – or as many of them as are feasible for the type of home they live in – would be considered to have reached a good level of energy efficiency and meet the new standard.”

      This is reassuring as it confirms that not all proposed measures will need to be met in every single property. The consultation suggests that the list could be:

      • 270mm loft insulation

      • Cavity wall insulation

      • Draught-proofing

      • Heating controls

      • 80mm hot water cylinder insulation

      • Suspended floor insulation

      Many landlords and homeowners will have made energy improvements to their properties already; therefore this consultation proposes that alongside the above measures, there could be an alternative option of meeting these standards based on the result of an EPC assessment.

      It is proposed that owner occupied homes that have ended their use of polluting heating, gas or oil for example, by 2033 will not be required to meet the minimum energy efficiency standard. However, private rented properties would still be required to meet the minimum energy efficiency standard, even if a clean heating system is already in place.

      Finally, there is a hint of clarification around the consequences to landlords if their properties do not meet a minimum energy efficiency standard. The consultation proposes that properties in the private rented sector which do not meet these standards by the end of 2028 would not be allowed to be leased to a new tenant should the existing tenant leave.

      The consultation on the proposals for Heat in Buildings Bill began on 28th November 2023, and is due to close on 8th March 2024.

      The consultation can be read in full here.

      Please contact Bell Ingram’s Rural Land Management team on 01738 621 121 if you have any questions and would like to discuss how this may impact your properties.

      Our people

      Hamish Hope

      Hamish Hope

      Surveyor, MRICS
      Land Management
      Tel: 01463 717 799

      About: Hamish is an experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer, working across the Highlands with a focus on rural estate management from traditional sporting estates to diversifications. He is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University with MSc Real Estate Management and Investment. Interests: Estate Management, Sales & Lettings, Valuations, Domestic Energy Assessments.

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      We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

        Farm Machinery Dispersal Sale

        SATURDAY 28TH OCTOBER 2023 AT 11AM

        AT CLAXTON FARM, HARTLEPOOL, TS22 5PT

        On behalf of R D Dryden (retiring)

        To include: New Holland TX36 20’ cut combine K Reg, 4,040 hrs, self-levelling shoe, chopper & trolley; Clayton Bugge 24m Sprayer c/w Chafer tank; Maschio Power Harrow/Accord drill combination; 2 x Dowdeswell 5F Ploughs; Vaderstad Rapid 30 S mounted drill; Parmiter 12’6” Discs; Howard 100” Rotaspike; Lely 3 ½ m P. Harrow; Kuhn 4m & 3 ½ m P. Harrows; Twin leg sub soiler; Blench Packer; Simba 4m trailed press; Edlington 6m Rollers; N-H 286 Baler; Ritchie 56 Bale Carrier; Browns Flat 8 Sledge; 5 Round Bale Carrier; 14T Trailer; JCB 3C.

        Included by permission: Ford Ranger 19 Reg c. 26,000 miles 3.2 6 speed manual, tow bar.

        On behalf of Mrs M J Dryden: Deutz DX 450 4wd c/w Alo loader; John Deere 2650 2wd; MAN 8-163 7 ½ t Truck (no test); N-H 1530 12’ cut combine; Petbow FC48 60Kva generator; Kuhn 3m P. Harrow/Accord drill combi; J-D 359 small baler; J-D 550 R Baler; Dowdeswell 4+1 Rev Plough; Ransomes 4F Plough; 2 Sets Cambridge Rolls; Small trailed sprayer; 2 Sets Discs; P-Z Haybob; 56 Bale Carrier; Bale squeezer; Parmiter Post Knocker; Slurry Tanker; Drainage pipes; Various Dual Wheels; Rice Trailer; Manitou (scrap).

        Produce: 75 R Bales Haylage. No small tools. Refreshments available.

        Our people

        Derek Tyson

        Derek Tyson

        Partner, MRICS FAAV
        Utilities & Renewables
        Tel: 01845 522 095

        About: With over 40 years’ experience in rural land agency, Derek has responsibility for the Thirsk office providing valuation sale and management advice for our ever expanding private client base and our existing portfolio of pipeline and utility clients. Interests: Pipelines & Utilities, Rural Land Management, Valuations, Estate Agency

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          Examining the pros and cons of overhaul of EPC system in Scotland

          In the quest for a greener and more sustainable future, the Scottish Government’s ongoing consultation on Domestic Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) reform is a welcome step.

          At present, one fifth of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from our buildings so improving the efficiency of these buildings is vital if we are to achieve net zero by 2045.

          Retrofitting our homes to be more efficient not only lowers emissions but also makes them more comfortable and affordable to heat. However, there is a significant monetary cost required to do this and any retrofit must be thought out and assessed to future proof the building.

          As our clients and their tenants closely follow these developments, let’s examine why reform is needed and the pros and cons for both parties.

          Why is reform needed?

          The current RdSAP methodology that determines an EPC score is undoubtedly flawed. Presently, the EPC score is modelled on running costs meaning a property heated via oil fired central heating scores higher than a property heated via efficient electric heaters. If EPCs are to be used to benchmark efficiency to help reach net zero, they must first improve accuracy and make relevant and suitable recommendations. RdSAP 10 will be released in early 2024 and will be introducing changes to the methodology to improve accuracy.

          What do the Scottish Government propose?

          The Scottish Government proposes to revise the information on domestic EPCs and expand the current metrics. This would separate the certificate into a Fabric Rating, Cost Rating and Heating System Type along with a separate section consisting of the Emissions Rating and Energy Indicator. This would allow for more accuracy while presenting clearer information. Another important aspect to note is that the proposals include reducing the validity of an EPC from 10 years to 5 years.

          Pros for Landlords

          Increased Property Value: Stricter EPC standards and an accurate methodology would allow properties to be more energy efficient and cheaper to run. Properties being heated correctly could limit maintenance requirements in regard to condensation issues such as mould and damp.

          Compliance with Regulations: In the next few years, there will be a minimum EPC requirement to let residential properties. Though dates have not yet been confirmed having a proactive stance could mitigate any potential penalties in the future.

          Cons for Landlords

          Upfront Costs: Undertaking energy-efficient improvements requires a financial investment. Landlords might face challenges in covering the initial expenses of retrofitting properties with more efficient technologies.

          Tenant Resistance: Installing insulation and new heating systems can be disruptive and may require properties to be vacant while improvements are being carried out. Tenants may be hesitant due to potential disruption during renovation periods.

          Pros for Tenants

          Reduced Energy Bills: Stricter EPC standards would lead to more energy efficient properties, leading to lower utility bills.

          Enhanced Comfort: Being able to heat properties correctly and affordably would reduce the risk of mould and condensation issues in the winter months. This reform could contribute to healthier, cosier home for tenants.

          Cons for Tenants

          Rent Increases: Due to the significant costs required to retrofit properties, it is likely that rents would need to be increased to help cover the upfront costs.

          Limited Choices: Not all landlords will be able to or desire to improve the efficiency of their properties which could see a decline in available properties on the rental market. Rural, stone-built properties may never be able to achieve a high scoring EPC which could lead to an even scarcer supply of rural homes available to rent.

          Conclusion

          Reforming EPCs could be a significant stride towards creating a more energy efficient future. While the pros and cons are clear for both landlords and tenants, it is crucial to recognise that that retrofitting properties is essential for combating climate change and advancing sustainable living. Though we have focused on residential properties, the consultation also covers commercial buildings.

          Home Energy Scotland can provide financial support in some cases for both landlords and tenants. Scotland’s Domestic EPC reform consultation closes on 10th October 2023. If you would like to discuss any of the proposals, please contact Bell Ingram and we will be happy to assist you.

          Our people

          Hamish Hope

          Hamish Hope

          Surveyor, MRICS
          Land Management
          Tel: 01463 717 799

          About: Hamish is an experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer, working across the Highlands with a focus on rural estate management from traditional sporting estates to diversifications. He is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University with MSc Real Estate Management and Investment. Interests: Estate Management, Sales & Lettings, Valuations, Domestic Energy Assessments.

          Get in touch

          We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

            Meet the Land Agent: Catherine Lawson

            Life as a Bell Ingram Land Agent offers variety and progression says Senior Associate, Catherine Lawson.

            What is your background?

            I am from a farming background and grew up on a farm in North Yorkshire.

            Once I left school I went to the Scottish Agricultural College at Auchincruive in Ayrshire to study Rural Tourism. After I graduated I worked at a grain lab in Bedfordshire, having spent all my summers before and during my Degree doing the same. I quickly realised I needed office experience if I wanted to move away from seasonal grain lab work and I got a job as a receptionist and typist at a holiday park company.

            While working for that company I quickly realised I wanted to work in the rural/agricultural sectors and in particular the rural surveying sector.

            What qualifications did you need to become a Land Agent?

            I needed to have a RICS accredited qualification to be able to work towards my RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

            Having obtained a non RICS accredited University of Glasgow First Class Rural Tourism honours degree at the Scottish Agricultural College (now SRUC), I went on to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Surveying through the College of Estate Management which gave me the necessary accredited qualification. This was completed part time via distance learning, while I also worked full time.

            What’s been your career path?

            I was given a great opportunity working as a Farm Secretary in Leicestershire for a national firm of Surveyors while I completed my Post Graduate Diploma. This gave me a lot of experience in all the administration involved in farm and estate management, as well as a greater knowledge of the rural property sector. It also made me realise that I had chosen the right career path and I knew that I wanted to go on and qualify as a Chartered Surveyor.

            Once I completed my Post Graduate Diploma I planned my move back to Scotland and accepted a job at Bell Ingram as an Assistant Land Agent, based in the Perth office. I passed my APC and CAAV exams two years later in November 2016 and then moved to the Forfar office in June 2019 where I am now a Senior Associate.

            What’s the biggest misconception of the job?

            I think alot of people assume that we are always out of the office visiting clients and properties. While we are fortunate to do this a lot, we actually spend the majority of our time in the office, writing reports and providing advice. Now, with the use of Microsoft teams/zoom we find ourselves out of the office even less as online meetings become easier and more time efficient for everyone involved.

            What do you enjoy about the job?

            The variety of the workload is one of the best parts of the job. You never know what your day will bring and where in the country it might take you. There are often times when you are driving to a property or walking around some fields, that you have to remind yourself that you’re actually being paid to be there.

            It is also a great feeling when you know the advice you have given or the report you have written has helped someone achieve their goals too.

            At Bell Ingram I think we are very fortunate to have a great network of colleagues who are all happy to help and share their knowledge and experiences, which can be really useful when dealing with tricky or unusual situations. There is also a really positive workplace culture which makes turning up to the office, even on a sunny Monday morning, enjoyable.

            What’s your advice to those thinking of entering the profession?

            Do it! If you have a love for the countryside and are looking for great career progression opportunities and variety in your work then it’s definitely a profession you should consider. The enjoyment you get from it can’t be matched.

            For more information about becoming a Land Agent and Life  at Bell Ingram contact careers@bellingram.co.uk

             

            Our people

            Catherine Lawson

            Catherine Lawson

            Senior Associate, MRICS FAAV
            Rural Land Management
            Tel: 01307 462 516

            About: Catherine is a highly qualified RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer working across Perthshire and Angus advising on all aspects of rural estate management, farm management, residential property management and lettings. She joined Bell Ingram in 2014 working in the Perth office before moving to the Forfar office in 2019. As a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire and now living on a farm in Angus, along with a degree in rural tourism management, Catherine can offer assistance on a variety or rural matters. Interests: Lettings, Rural Land Management, Tourism

            Get in touch

            We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

              Still opportunities to be had in competitive land market

              There is no shortage of deals to be done in the current farmland market according to rural property experts, Bell Ingram.

              In recent times, we have seen land values remaining strong with many of Bell Ingram’s latest sales achieving offers over the asking price, with great demand for arable and mixed units, be it equipped or bare land.

              However, with an increasing number of farm businesses look to expand, the number of buyers looking for land continues to outweigh the supply of land coming to the market.

              Bell Ingram is urging those thinking about selling their farm or portioning off land for sale to seek advice on the sales process at the earliest opportunity, especially with this year’s harvest around the corner.

              Commenting on the market, Chartered Rural Surveyor, John Kennedy says: “With uncertainty surrounding support schemes, increasing red tape and rising input costs, selling off land may be an attractive proposition for your business. Bell Ingram’s farm sales team can talk you through the sales process for both on market and off market deals.

              “It is important to seek advice from our sales team at the earliest opportunity to discuss your circumstances and talk you through the best options. Many farmers hold off making preparations for sale until it becomes time critical and the window for photography and launching at a peak marketing point is missed. The earlier you make your enquiry allows for thorough planning and for every option to be explored, ensuring the best outcome for your business.

              “It may also be the case that we have a suitable buyer ready to go as we currently have a number of clients on the books looking for suitable land ranging from 20 acres to large scale operations.”

              If you are thinking of placing land or your whole farm on the market, John Kennedy will be pleased to have a confidential, no obligation discussion of   your requirements. Email john.kennedy@bellingram.co.uk or call 01307 462516.

              Our people

              John Kennedy

              John Kennedy

              Surveyor, MRICS
              Rural Land Management
              Tel: 01307 462 516

              About: John is a RICS Chartered Surveyor working across Perthshire and Angus advising on all aspects of rural estate and farm management. John joined Bell Ingram in 2021 and is a graduate of SRUC in Edinburgh with an Honours Degree in Agriculture followed by a Masters in Land Economy at the University of Aberdeen. Interests: Rural Land Management, MRICS Registered Valuer.

              Get in touch

              We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

                Agritourism to play a key role in driving Scotland’s rural economy

                By Caroline Millar, Scottish Agritourism Sector Lead

                Scotland’s agritourism sector has ambitious plans to provide the same level of economic impact to the rural economy that many other countries enjoy.

                Agritourism includes three main activities based on a working farm or croft – farm retail, farm accommodation and day experiences.

                Farm retail, the direct sale of food and drink from farms either in a farm shop, honesty hut or online, accounts for an estimated £110 million of economic value to the sector.

                Holidays on farm and day experiences are estimated to be valued at £60 million.

                Farmstays now include a vast range of accommodation types from luxury lodges to glamping and campsites, and also include the traditional farmhouse B&B that many people think of when they think of a farmstay.

                Day experiences are where the sector is seeing increasing demand, particularly from the travel trade who organise private tours for couples and groups. Experiences include farm tours, seasonal events such as pumpkin festivals, eating in a farm café or restaurant, adventure sports and weddings.

                The definition of agritourism varies from country to country. The Scottish definition of agritourism is: “Tourism or leisure on a working farm, croft or estate which produces food.”

                The sector body, Scottish Agritourism, was established in June 2020 to formally bring together a strong network of farmers, crofters and suppliers to the sector, to offer peer to peer business support, consumer marketing and representation. Scottish Agritourism has a board chaired by Riddell Graham, formerly Head of Partnerships, Visit Scotland. While working on behalf of the entire sector, Scottish Agritourism is also a membership organisation.

                The agritourism sector is much wider than farmers and crofters at its core. Businesses providing professional services and advice, construction companies and a range of suppliers needed to run a successful enterprise are just some examples of the wider agritourism supply chain that are playing a vital part in the growth of the sector.

                The Scottish Government’s programme for government in May 2021 included an action to produce and implement a strategy to grow agritourism in Scotland. The strategy was part of a 100-day commitment action. The strategy was developed with a working group made up of private sector and public sector leaders, and also included input from international experts in agritourism. It was launched at the Scottish Agritourism conference in November 2021.

                Scottish Agritourism as a sector body plays a vital role in representing private sector businesses in agritourism with the national strategy roll out. Three representatives from Scottish Agritourism sit on the implementation board including Caroline Millar, Sector Lead for Scottish Agritourism and Co-Chair of the board alongside Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and the Islands, Mairi Gougeon. The strategy aims to have 100 farmers and crofters in agritourism by 2030 and to increase the economic impact from £170 million to £250 million per annum.

                Find out how Bell Ingram can help you achieve your Agritourism dream here.

                Our people

                Rhona Booth

                Rhona Booth

                Senior Associate, MRICS
                Rural Land Management
                Tel: 01307 462516

                About: Rhona is a highly experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer working across Perthshire and Angus advising on all aspects of estate and farm management, including landlord and tenant negotiations, telecommunication mast agreements, utility projects and CPO compensation claims. In addition, Rhona can undertake a range of rural valuations for a variety of purposes as a Registered Valuer. Rhona joined Bell Ingram in 2020 and has over 20 years’ experience in the sector. Interests: Rural Land Management, Valuations, Utilities, Renewable Energy, Agricultural Tenancy Advisor, MRICS Registered Valuer.

                Get in touch

                We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

                  Race is on to find sites suitable for battery storage but farmers urged not to be blindsided by developers

                  Renewables experts at Bell Ingram are urging farmers to think carefully about the potential impact on their business before agreeing to leasing land for renewables projects.

                  As the UK works towards its target to operate a zero-carbon electricity system by 2035, the race is on to find sites available for large scale battery storage, solar, hydrogen and wind projects.

                  With such high demand, farmers are being approached up and down the country by developers offering the incentive of a substantial additional income to lease their land.

                  For many the approach is an attractive proposition. However, Rhona Booth, Land Agent and Senior Associate at Bell Ingram believes farmers must think about the implications on their businesses before signing on the dotted line.

                  Rhona says: “The UK is completely transforming the way in which we distribute energy and this will have a huge knock on effect for landowners and occupiers across the country. As a result, we are experiencing an increase in enquiries from farmers and clients who have been approached by developers looking for land for new renewables projects, in particular solar and battery storage.

                  “While there are certainly good deals to be done, especially for those looking for a solid retiral or succession plan, there is a long list of things to take into account when considering if this is the right move for your farming business.

                  “Infrastructure projects such as these require land, not just for the footprint of the site, but for access, construction compounds and habitat management plans, which is a much bigger commitment than most realise. One must also consider the logistics of getting the land back at the end of the lease and the reinstatement of working crops.

                  “Therefore, farmers must weigh up the effects on their current business and future plans as well as the potential for depreciation on home value and assets against the likely financial gain.”

                  For more information on leasing land for renewables projects, or if you have been contacted by a developers about leasing land and want to make sure you are getting a fair deal, contact Rhona Booth on 01738 621121 or email rhona.booth@bellingram.co.uk

                  Our people

                  Rhona Booth

                  Rhona Booth

                  Senior Associate, MRICS
                  Rural Land Management
                  Tel: 01307 462516

                  About: Rhona is a highly experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer working across Perthshire and Angus advising on all aspects of estate and farm management, including landlord and tenant negotiations, telecommunication mast agreements, utility projects and CPO compensation claims. In addition, Rhona can undertake a range of rural valuations for a variety of purposes as a Registered Valuer. Rhona joined Bell Ingram in 2020 and has over 20 years’ experience in the sector. Interests: Rural Land Management, Valuations, Utilities, Renewable Energy, Agricultural Tenancy Advisor, MRICS Registered Valuer.

                  Get in touch

                  We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

                    Future Agricultural Support in Scotland as at June 2023

                    The Scottish Government have provided some further clarification on the future agricultural policy we are expecting to see from 2025, as well as clarification on the future of other support schemes.

                    While Mairi Gougeon has promised there will be no cliff edges as businesses transition into the new support mechanisms, further detail outlining how some of the proposed measures and standards will be implemented remains outstanding. As anticipated, we are beginning to see further clarity on which direction agricultural support is going, with focus on the environment and climate change, and a move to more regenerative farming methods.

                    Basic Payment Scheme and beyond

                    New conditions for receiving Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) support will be introduced from 2025, before a new support mechanism replaces the existing scheme in 2026. We understand that essential standards will have to be met in order to receive BPS in 2025. These essential standards are focused on farming activity; climate response; biodiversity gain; whilst also safeguarding animal health and welfare standards and workers’ rights.

                    In 2025 farming businesses will need to start the transition to the new support scheme which is considered as a ‘stepping stone’ to 2026 and beyond, with the compliance requirements for 2025 BPS linking to Tier 1 for the new support framework. In practice, these conditions will include the following, but may have other items added.

                    • the maintenance of existing cross compliance requirements as a minimum for future support;

                    • the introduction of new protections for Peatlands and Wetlands as a new condition on basic payments;

                    • the foundations of a Whole Farm Plan, including soil testing, animal health and welfare declaration, carbon audits, biodiversity audits and supported business planning;

                    • the introduction of new conditions to the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme linked to calving intervals to encourage livestock keepers to reduce the emissions intensity of their cattle production systems.

                    2026 support is likely to be structured on a tier mechanism, with Basic Support and Enhanced Support available as outlined below.

                    Tier 1: Base  – This will be the closest thing to a direct payment, guaranteed to all farmers and crofters who meet essential standards in farming activity; climate response; biodiversity gain; whilst safeguarding animal health and welfare standards and workers’ rights, as well as existing cross-compliance conditions

                    Tier 2: Enhanced – This tier will build on the standards established in Tier 1. It will focus on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and protect, restore and improve nature. These measures will also incentivise more sustainable and regenerative farming practices, with focuses on farming for a better climate and nature restoration.

                    Tier 3: Elective – This tier will be ‘optional’ and likely to be more specific to targeting a certain species or habitat, and will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, and protecting, restoring and improving nature.

                    Tier 4: Complementary – Funding in Tiers 1-3 will be complemented by providing applicants with access to support and advice, as well as continuous professional development (CPD) to help achieve the aims of the future support model.

                    Payment Regions

                    The Regions model will remain, but will be reviewed prior to 2027 to ensure it is fit for purpose within the new scheme guidelines.

                    Greening (for arable/other cropping)

                    Greening will continue into 2025 and from 2026 will remain, but may alter to better integrate into the new tier system.

                    Voluntary Coupled Support

                    Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) and Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS)

                    Both of these schemes will continue in 2025 and 2026, with consideration still being given to how Voluntary Coupled Support will be delivered in 2027

                    New conditions will be introduced to SSBSS in 2025 linked to calving interval performance.

                    Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS)

                    This scheme is expected to continue to 2026 but changes may be introduced from 2025 to support the transition towards a more economically and environmentally sustainable model. Consideration is still being given to how this type of support will be delivered from 2027.

                    Agri Environment and Climate Scheme (AECS)

                    This scheme is expected to continue to 2026 to deliver elements of Tiers 3 and 4 until new Elective and Complementary Support is implemented from 2027. Some the options currently available through AECS are being considered for inclusion in Tier 2 so that more people can implement them.

                    Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS)

                    This Scheme is expected to evolve and continue to deliver elements of Tier 3 and 4 until new support is implemented from 2027. Some of the options available under this scheme are being considered for inclusion as eligible measures/activities in Tier 2 so that more people can implement them.

                    Planning for the future

                    Preparing for Sustainable Farming

                    This new grant scheme is already open for applications for helping businesses prepare for changes, with support for conducting carbon audits and soil sampling, support for animal health and welfare activities and access to herd data for Suckler beef producers through MyHerdStat.

                    Put simply, the scheme allows businesses to claim £500 for an eligible carbon audit, up to £600 per 100Ha of Region 1 land for soil sampling and £250 as a development payment alongside the first soil sampling payment for farmers and crofters to spend time on things that will widen their understanding of Nutrient Management Planning. In addition, there is funding available for businesses to select up to two (per year) animal health and welfare interventions, which include bull fertility, calf respiratory disease, liver fluke (sheep or cattle), roundworm (sheep or cattle), sheep scab, sheep iceberg diseases, and sheep lameness.

                    Applications are already open for the carbon audit and soil sampling, with funding for the animal health and welfare interventions expected to be available shortly.

                    Whole-Farm Plans

                    Whole Farm Plans will be introduced from 2025 as a tool to help farmers and crofters integrate food, climate and biodiversity outcomes on their holdings and inform where they can seek support from the future support framework. The intention of the Whole Farm Plan is to help businesses become more environmentally and economically resilient and sustainable, with productivity baselines for soil testing, an animal health and welfare declaration, carbon audits, biodiversity audits and support for business planning.

                    To discuss any of this further and what it might mean for your business, please contact a member of the Bell Ingram Rural Land Management team.

                    Our people

                    Catherine Lawson

                    Catherine Lawson

                    Senior Associate, MRICS FAAV
                    Rural Land Management
                    Tel: 01307 462 516

                    About: Catherine is a highly qualified RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer working across Perthshire and Angus advising on all aspects of rural estate management, farm management, residential property management and lettings. She joined Bell Ingram in 2014 working in the Perth office before moving to the Forfar office in 2019. As a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire and now living on a farm in Angus, along with a degree in rural tourism management, Catherine can offer assistance on a variety or rural matters. Interests: Lettings, Rural Land Management, Tourism

                    Get in touch

                    We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

                      Meet the Land Agent

                      If you have a passion for travel and the countryside then life as a Bell Ingram Land Agent could be for you. We find out more about what the job entails, and routes into the profession from our Ambleside based Senior Associate, Andrew Thompson.

                      What is your background?

                      I am not from a farming background and my interest in surveying started back in the 90s doing work experience for a firm of land agents on Speyside. From those early experiences I realised that surveying could offer an opportunity to travel, learn about the built environment, the social/economic history of a people and a place. I preferred the opportunity as I saw it then, to be outside rather than being sat behind a desk.

                      What qualifications did you need to become a Land Agent?

                      I spent some time at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester but moved into private practice in Oxfordshire and then Dorset before finishing because working appealed more than studying at the time.

                      Through the experience route (five years of working) I enrolled and passed the Post Graduate Diploma in Surveying from the College of Estate Management in Reading while working full time in Leicestershire. This qualification then enabled me to do the APC (Rural) through the RICS, which I passed first time, whilst working in Inverness.

                      What’s been your career path?

                      I spent nearly four years in Dorset working on a traditional 12,500-acre estate which had six miles of world heritage coastline, a castle, holiday caravan park, plus a portfolio of farms, cottages and commercial interests. I then spend a short spell in London on the more commercial side of surveying but although well renumerated it wasn’t for me.

                      From there, I moved up to Leicestershire for three years undertaking a range of duties and tasks; then to Scotland and spent five years in Inverness working for one of our competitors. Much of that time was spent working for Crown Estate’s marine portfolio at a time where there was a lot of investment in community assets making local fish and shellfish business more sustainable, whilst encouraging tourism; early days of windfarms; the decommissioning redundant North Sea oil and gas assets. I was also involved in some of Scottish Water’s refurbishment projects. My work took me all over Scotland and I was a frequent visitor to Orkney and Shetland.

                      After that I worked for the National Trust in the Lake District (a National Park and what became a World Heritage Site) for a further five years before returning to private practice at Bell Ingram. My time with the NT was more akin to where I had first started out in the surveying profession down in Dorset where there was a large portfolio of farms and cottages to manage on a day-to-day basis but with a significant emphasis on the environment, the culture, the intrinsic historical context of Beatrix Potter, Wordsworth, Coleridge etc and a big interface with the general public.

                      What’s the biggest misconception of the job?

                      If you are considering a career as a Land Agent or Chartered Surveyor, you might not realise that companies like Bell Ingram tender for much of our work through framework contracts with the major utility companies. This kind of work – acquisition and disposals, compensation and claims, compulsory purchase and land referencing – is very different from traditional estate management or forestry but can be extremely rewarding seeing a massive infrastructure project through from start to finish.

                      My current role, for example, has been focused on a major water project insuring and providing water to the whole of West Cumbria over the past six years, sat alongside other utility and other private client work.

                      What do you enjoy about the job?

                      The scope for variety in the context of ‘surveying’ or ‘rural land management’ or alternatively the ability to specialise and be an expert in a specific discipline. One can be progressive and engaging, giving guidance and opinion on how best to manage land and safeguard it as an asset for future generations and as part of that it’s the travelling and the experiences generated in meeting new people that appeals to me. Working in different parts of the country, experiencing different challenges, putting context to them and sympathetically securing a solution for the client. Just because something works once, it doesn’t mean it’ll work elsewhere.

                      In my current role working on infrastructure projects, though not often acknowledged per sae – I enjoy the problem-solving element of the job, resolving complex issues to the satisfaction of both client and the landowner is often rewarding.

                      What’s your advice to those thinking of entering the profession?

                      The traditional route of university degree and masters followed by your APC and CAAV professional qualifications is not the only route into the rural land management sector. For private practices like Bell Ingram, this pathway is still considered the “gold standard”, but there are different expectations within the utility sector with more “on the job” training and development available to those who prefer a non-academic route or for those who wish to transition into the profession. As an example of this I came across was GP doctor who had a personal interest/hobby in rural sports and decided to take up a position whilst maintaining his GP hours.

                      Bell Ingram is hiring Land Agents across our business and locations. Find out more about the positions available and life at Bell Ingram at bellingram.co.uk/Work-with-us.

                      Our people

                      Andrew Thompson

                      Andrew Thompson

                      Senior Associate
                      Utilities & Renewables Rural Land Management
                      Tel: 01539 896 101

                      About: Andrew, a qualified Rural Chartered Surveyor and RICS Registered Valuer, opened the Ambleside Office in 2017 to facilitate the delivery of a number of utility and land management focussed projects across Cumbria and North Lancashire. Andrew is keen to maximise the full suite of professional services that Bell Ingram can offer, through its Ambleside staff and office. Interests: Utilities, Private Estate Management, Rural Land Management, MRICS Registered Valuer

                      Get in touch

                      We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

                        Bell Ingram join multi-disciplinary team on Crown Estate Scotland transactions framework

                        Bell Ingram has been appointed to the Crown Estate Scotland’s Built Development, Coastal and Land Transactions Professional Services as part of a consortium of consultancies.

                        Led by Turner & Townsend the three-year framework aims to support Crown Estate Scotland’s Development, Investment and Divestment strategy as it works to enhance communities and boost local businesses and economies.

                        As part of this expert team, Bell Ingram will provide rural surveying services for projects and capital work programmes over £150,000 and major sales, and purchase of property, land and assets across the Crown Estate Portfolio with a capital value over £350,000. Bell Ingram’s work will include rural valuations, claims and acquisitions and disposals of rural property.

                        Joining the consultancy team alongside Bell Ingram are commercial property experts CBRE and ICENI and Blackhall & Powis, who will be advising on offshore and renewable planning matters.

                        Commenting on the tender win, Aberdeen Partner, James Petty says: “We look forward to working with this multi-disciplinary team to deliver rural surveying services for the Crown Estate Scotland portfolio. Our experience in rural land management and our coverage across Scotland means we are well placed to play such a key role in the delivering this framework.”

                        Oster Milambo, Director of Property, Crown Estate Scotland, comments: “This framework is crucially important to Crown Estate Scotland’s work in the coming year. We look forward to working with Turner and Townsend and the wider multi-disciplinary consultancy team to deliver it successfully to help create great places and lasting value for the people of Scotland.”

                        For more information on our Rural Land Management services visit: bellingram.co.uk/land-management/rural-land-management/

                        Our people

                        James Petty

                        James Petty

                        Partner, MRICS
                        Rural Land Management
                        Tel: 01224 621 300

                        About: James is the Partner in charge of Bell Ingram's Aberdeen office and is an experienced rural surveyor dealing with all types of valuations, utilities and pipelines, rural land management, estate agency, and has experience of compulsory purchase work including the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. He is an MRICS Registered Valuer and has provided Red Book valuations for a range of property types including mixed estates to traditional owner-occupied farms, residential, access rights and development plots. James has experience of day-to-day management of low ground estate properties including let farms, seasonal land lets and residential property letting. James has also worked with major utility companies on their onshore and offshore wind farm operations and provided land agency services to clients such as Siemens, SSE and SGN. Interests: MRICS Registered Valuer, Agent and Valuer for the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation Pipelines & Utilities, Rural Land Management, Valuations, Estate Agency.

                        Get in touch

                        We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct