The new wave of legal safeguards comes as part of the government’s commitment in its 25-Year Environment Plan to protect England’s wildlife and natural environment.
Voluntary but legally-binding agreements to ‘encourage positive environmental actions’ are up for consultation.
The new wave of legal safeguards comes as part of the government’s commitment in its 25-Year Environment Plan to protect England’s wildlife and natural environment, including the preservation of trees, woodland and flower-rich meadow.
Defra Secretary Michael Gove said the conservation covenants – already used successfully in other countries – would be legally binding on future owners of the land and ‘overseen by responsible bodies to ensure land management obligations are delivered’.
“There plans are a further step in our ambition to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it,” Mr Gove said.
“I urge people to have their say on the proposals, which we are considering for our forthcoming Environment Bill.”
The main scenarios likely to involve the use of conservation covenants include: altruistic uses; securing heritage sites; an alternative to land purchase by conservation organisations; disposals of land by conservation organisations; payment for ecosystem services and net gain for biodiversity.
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said in the right circumstances, conservation covenants could be ‘an important tool’ for landowners considering long-term investment in the environment.
Matthew Darby, landowner, farmer and trustee of the Kemerton Conservation Trust added: “I see them acting as a bridge between landowners and those paying for public goods.
“I could invest this sum back into the farming business so that my family could continue to live on the land and care for it. These covenants could provide multiple wins – for families, for public goods and for natural places.”