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Wanting to plough your grassland?

It is reasonable to think that ploughing a field under permanent pasture into arable production is just part and parcel of normal farm practice, however such is the red tape, that you could inadvertently risk prosecution in certain circumstances.

Be aware of the potential for red tape when ploughing up pasture.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (EIA) Regulations came into force in 2006 with the aim of protecting environmentally significant areas from being damaged by agricultural works.

Broadly speaking, where agricultural land has not been physically or chemically cultivated in the last 15 years and is over two hectares in size, consent from Natural England will be required before cultivating, with projects assessed on a case by case basis.

As with most things Defra-related, the procedure for obtaining consent is not one to be taken lightly, with applicants required to complete an Environmental Screening Report to include:

  • Detailed description of the proposed
    works,
  • Environmental sensitivity analysis,
  • Environmental mitigation measures,
  • Consultations with the county archaeology department and Biodiversity Records Centre.

The penalty for landowners who are found to be in breach is prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000. Reinstatement may also be required, adding further costs, wasted time and a lot of frustration.

Having helped a number of applicants secure consent on their land, we at Hobbs Parker appreciate the importance of considering the application in the round in order to maximise your chances of success.

Most recently we helped secure consent for cultivation works across a number of permanent pasture fields that had been previously entered under an arable reversion scheme.

Hobbs Parker was able to provide strategic mitigation advice to balance the environmental concerns and ultimately achieve consent to carry out the proposed works.


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