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Brexit could open up big opportunities for landowners to invest in natural capital

Changes in Government thinking and Brexit could open up big opportunities for landowners to invest in natural capital.


Alex   Black

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Alex   Black
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Making the business case for investment in ‘natural capital’

It was currently difficult to make a ‘business case’ for investing in natural assets, according to Strutt and Parker research partner Jason Beedell.

 

Fail


But he believed this would change ‘imminently’ as the Government looked ‘likely to fail’ to meet environmental objectives without significant investment.


“What we are going to find is that the Government is probably not going to pay farmers and land managers as much to produce crops in the future. It will pay them for producing public goods,” he said.


This would mean the Government needed to invest in areas such as wildlife protection, soil management and water quality.

 

Optimism


Mr Beedell added he was more optimistic about natural capital now than he had been for 20 years as the Government had changed the way it considered its policy. It has asked the Natural Capital Committee to decide what success would look like in 2030 and work backwards.


“I do not think the Government has thought that way in the past. It is potentially a massive market for landowners,” he said.


The market could be grown by water companies who needed to store and clean water, helping manufacturers meet carbon targets and organisations ‘connecting people with nature’ for health.


There could also be opportunities in biodiversity if planning applications were required to include ‘offsetting’.


He added leaving the EU could also help natural capital fulfil its potential.


“Because we are leaving the Common Agricultural Policy, we have actually got more freedom to introduce these policies."


Strutt and Parker also suggested there were opportunities in generating and storing electricity if regulatory and planning barriers were removed.


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What do rural businesses plan to invest in?

32%

Renewable energy

 

23%

Connectivity

 

40%

The environment

 

60%

Property for own business use

What are the barriers to investment?

49%

Problems with the planning system

 

47%

Do not think they will get sufficient returns

 

42%

Regulations

 

41%

Prohibitive upfront costs

 

Source: Strutt and Parker, CLA

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