The year in Land Management

The year in Rural Land Management

As 2022 draws to a close, it feels right to take time to reflect on the year that has gone and look forward to 2023. I can’t remember which philosopher said that: “you need to know where you have come from to know where you are going”, but I suspect he could not have foreseen such a rollercoaster of a year that we have just endured.

From the highs of the spring and the early months of 2022, the residential property market was as buoyant as we have seen it for many years. At the same time the world of forestry planting land, carbon credits and investment in land by fund managers bore no relation to traditional land values.

It only took a change in personnel in No.10 and No.11 Downing Street, and a mini budget, to send investors into retreat and the housing market to all but disappear. That is everywhere but the west coast of Scotland and the Islands where the market seems to be bucking the trend.

There is no escaping the issue that land management and investment in 2023 faces a number of challenges. That said, where there is uncertainty, there are opportunities for those who are willing to take a calculated risk and who are well advised in the rewards that investing in land, property and forestry can bring.

Interest rates may be rising and the cost of money for the lending institutions is increasing, but there is no shortage of individuals looking to purchase good quality farm land. This year saw a dearth of good quality farms coming to the market but with the increase in the cost of inputs, and the rise in interest rates, it is inevitable that more farms will come to the market in 2023.

The Scottish Government is standing by its targets for forestry planting, but we have seen a cooling in the market for planting land. Good land will sell well, but the poorer land with access and future extraction issues is definitely diminishing.

The Government has published its consultation on the future of agriculture and it is questionable whether they will achieve their aims in this parliament. Muirburn and the licensing of grouse moors are all under scrutiny for 2023, which in effect raises serious questions for the future of rural Scotland and the future of sporting and upland management.

2023 is going to prove a challenging year in terms of land and property management in the United Kingdom. The staff at Bell Ingram are on hand to advise how best to navigate the way through these difficult times. There will be opportunities in 2023 for investing and diversification in land and property. The old adage that “he who hesitates is lost!” might be the maxim for 2023.

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Malcolm Taylor

Malcolm Taylor

Senior Partner, FRICS ACIArb
Rural Land Management
Tel: 01307 462 516

About: Malcolm is Bell Ingram's Senior Partner and heads up the company's Forfar office, where he specialises in farm and estate management, including the provision of agricultural rental advice and acting as an expert witness. He is the immediate past chairman of the RICS in Scotland and remains actively involved with the Institution. Malcolm is also head of Lettings within Bell Ingram. Interests: AMC Agent, Corporate Estate Management, Rural Land Management, SRDP Applications, FRICS Registered Valuer.

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    Article posted on 17/08/2022