We were delighted to be speaking at An Evening with Burges Salmon on 9 October 2023, organised by Surveyors RECAP, a non-profit organisation expanding the knowledge of rural professions (www.suveyorsrecap.co.uk) and hosted at a very welcoming Harper Adams University.
We took the opportunity to poll the attendees, all of them rural professionals with varying backgrounds of practice, experience and firms.
The polling has produced some interesting results, giving a snapshot as to how a group of rural professionals thought about particular questions put to them, and over three Episodes we’ll share the polling, with some thoughts. We hope you find them of interest.
Part 2: Farming and Diversification
We asked some very specific questions around farming and diversification. This was to get a feel for whether the impact of the very rapid changes in the sector, which have been accompanied by masses of commentary, have actually been working their way into practice.
And there has been a lot of talk about BNG:
This was a very binary question with the really surprising result of an absolute dead heat.
At the time of polling the delay on BNG from November 2023 to January 2024 had recently been notified and amidst all the other policy chopping and changing in this area that we are seeing it seems that there is a very real lack of certainty around this area.
This may also reflect the concerns expressed by many that the inconsistency we are seeing undermines the establishment of a stable private market that enables rural land to generate a reasonable income from an environmentally compatible use, which is the ultimate aim.
As part of the move on from a subsidy-driven system, non-farming diversification is felt by many to hold great prospects for enhancing the value generated from rural land, and for supporting rural communities. But can that be delivered?
Another divide of broadly equivalent numbers, but with more leaning on the gloomy side, that commercial diversification will be restricted by planning approaches. This is a consistent source of tension in rural areas and there will need to be more certainty if significant investments are to be made. But bear in mind the healthy minority who think that despite that, commercial diversification will boom.
And what about GM?
GM and the questions around it are a real old chestnut, given more vigour of late by the development of gene editing as a technology. Whether you think it is a good or bad thing depends upon your view of that particular issue, but this result, with a small margin thinking there will be more of it, shows that it is another of those area where there may be no settled view.
In Part 3 next week, we will look at the results for The Money.
"...to get a feel for whether the impact of the very rapid changes in the sector, which have been accompanied by masses of commentary, have actually been working their way into practice"