Environmental issues and agricultural land
Produced in partnership with Stephanie Kerr and Tim Champney of Argyll Environmental
Environmental issues and agricultural land

The following Environment guidance note Produced in partnership with Stephanie Kerr and Tim Champney of Argyll Environmental provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental issues and agricultural land
  • Brexit impact
  • Increasing demand on agricultural land
  • Environmental risks associated with agricultural land
  • Additional considerations in agricultural land transactions

Brexit impact

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Increasing demand on agricultural land

There are over 24 million hectares of land in the UK, with around 75% (17.5 million ha) used for farming. The growing demand for living space and food production has resulted in the price of farmland significantly increasing over the past few years. The current average value of £8,956 per acre for GB prime arable land is now 9% below its 2014 peak of £9,870 per acre.

Environmental risks associated with agricultural land

Historic contamination

The Environment Agency (EA) has estimated that between 10–40% of the 300,000 hectares of potentially contaminated land that has been identified may lie in rural areas.

According to the EA, common sources of contamination include:

  1. landfilling (see below)

  2. fly-tipping of scrap metal, tyres and asbestos roof sheeting

  3. pesticides and insecticides

  4. gas and power production

  5. saw mills, and

  6. brick and tile works

The EA has reported that agriculture accounted for 16% of