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Currently, land use in the United Kingdom is undergoing a major review due to change in UK agricultural policy and global focus on biodiversity loss and climate change.
As a result, Stags has seen substantial demand for farmland acquired for environmental reasons from buyers looking to future-proof their business with opportunities for carbon offset, mitigating biodiversity lost from development projects or generally having an interest in improving biodiversity.
Throughout 2021, enquiries for all types of land substantially increased, resulting in a number of interesting sales across the South West.
In Somerset, near Minehead, 223 acres of arable land interspersed with pockets of woodland sold off a guide price of £1,525,000. It was purchased by a global company investing into UK agricultural land to farm sustainably and enhance the natural biodiversity, which they then hope to use for educational visits.
In Devon, near Okehampton, 27.98 acres of permanent pasture sold at auction for £202,000 to a public organisation requiring land for tree-planting to mitigate carbon on development projects they are conducting throughout the South West.
In Cornwall, near Launceston, 27.87 acres of productive pasture with a stream attracted strong interest from private buyers. The successful purchaser plans to manage the land in an environmentally-sensitive way, giving priority to habitat and species diversity over agricultural production. They were prepared to pay over £11,000 an acre to acquire the land for this purpose. The next underbidder intended on utilising the land to offset the carbon footprint of their commercial business based in Plymouth.
Looking forward, demand for land looks strong and it is important that it is marketed in a way that covers all local, regional and international buyers and that any opportunities for premiums relating to environmental benefits are promoted. It is also important to remember that farmland is still in strong demand for food production.