A farm in the North Yorkshire Wolds in northeast England has become the first to generate international soil carbon credits under a new carbon offsetting initiative established by a US-UK partnership.

A joint statement issued by Texas-based carbon credit registry BCarbon; UK-based sustainable agriculture consultancy Future Food Solutions; and the British Consulate in Houston, has recently announced the credits as "the first in a major initiative to reverse climate change by using farmland to pull harmful carbon from the atmosphere".

According to the statement, under the Sustainable Futures Carbon Bank programme, "farmers are encouraged to grow cover crops that pull carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil while employing no-till practices. Increasingly popular in the UK, cover crops are planted between the regular food crop rotation so they don’t impact the amount of food UK farmers produce.”

Upon measurement and verification under the BCarbon system, project developers such and farmers then receive money through the sale of their carbon credits. According to the statement, London, New York and Amsterdam-listed information and analytics giant RELX bought the first tonnes of verified carbon credits generated by the Yorkshire farm.

The drive for Net Zero is creating many opportunities such as those arising in the following areas – natural capital, decarbonisation, sustainable and regenerative farming, biodiversity net gain and carbon offsetting.

While there are significant opportunities from these schemes, the challenge for many of these natural capital and sustainable farming projects is in finding a way to harness the benefits in a legally enforceable way. Moreover, new policies and regulations, and an increasing public awareness around these types of issues, have the potential to cause financial and reputational damage for those not managing these projects appropriately.

We can bring together lawyers as required from our real estate, planning and compulsory purchase, environment, corporate, dispute resolution, private client and finance teams to advise on these issues. If you would like advice or want to know more, please contact Michael Barlow or another member of the environment team.

Written by Isobel Annan.