Buried on page 91 of the Autumn Statement is the announcement of a delay to the government response to the consultation on the taxation of environmental land management and ecosystems services markets, noting that government will give “a further update in Spring 2024”. 

This consultation (which closed in June this year) was aimed at gathering evidence regarding the tax treatment both of the income streams that could be generated by natural capital projects and the inheritance tax treatment of the land on which they take place. The consultation recognised what many in the rural sector know, that an uncertain tax treatment of these projects can be a barrier to landowners entering these schemes. 

With the recent attempts to shift policy in this area - think along the lines of recent attempts row back on nutrient neutrality (see Kevin Kennedy's thoughts on that here Reality check? The impact of the likely nutrient neutrality change on rural landowners, Kevin Kennedy (burges-salmon.com)) and a postponement of the biodiversity net gain obligations on developers - a nascent and sometimes difficult to navigate market, a lack of clarity from government on tax is very unhelpful in terms of providing landowners with a firm base on which to make decisions about the long term future of their land, and the crucial part that they may be able to play in getting to Net Zero. 

Roll on spring 2024!