Much looked for and awaited, conservation covenants are coming as a realistic means of achieving environmental outcomes on land. DEFRA have just published their guidance document Getting and using a conservation covenant agreement - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), which has been regarded as an essential first step for parties to start thinking how they can be used in practice. There are still many questions outstanding and far more detail to come, but the potential benefits that conservation covenants offer and the appetite for implementing them suggests that there will be a particular focus on the guidance, and how they can be implemented.
Organisations that wish to become Responsible Bodies, who will take the benefit of the conservation covenants - and police them - will in particular look closely at this guidance, as they look to see how they might fit into their work, and most importantly what obligations and responsibilities they might bring.
A conservation covenant agreement is a private, voluntary agreement to conserve the natural or heritage features of the land. The parts of a conservation covenant agreement which set out what a landowner and responsible body must or must not do to help conserve the land become legally binding as a conservation covenant.