Conservation covenants consultation - NFU response

Managing hedges to benefit pollinators

Defra has consulted on the creation of conservation covenants as a legal tool to secure long term environmental outcomes. The Law Commission originally examined conservation covenants in 2013 and 2014.

The NFU provided a comprehensive response to the Law Commission's original consultation in 2013. The Defra consultation builds on the Law Commission's original findings and many of our original reservations concerning the introduction of conservation covenants remain. We attach a copy of our response to the Law Commission.

To appeal to farmers, the NFU believes that conservation covenants must be sufficiently flexible in terms of the freedom to negotiate the specifics of the covenant and the length of the term. Furthermore, long term flexibility will be vital to allow for variations or modifications of the obligations, for example to accommodate changes in circumstances or wider policy priorities, and the ability to meet desired outcomes.

If introduced, conservation covenants must deliver a fair financial payment for the services provided, which need to reflect and fairly reward farmers for the full costs of delivery as well as future losses. It must also be transparent from the outset how delivering a conservation covenant relates to existing or future environmental land management schemes.

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