Otter spotted . . .

The coronavirus pandemic has meant spending more time at home than I had originally planned for. Partly for this reason, one moment I was anticipating came while I was at home, staying safe and getting ready for a quiet new year. This video is from an estate of which I am a trustee, and which I take part in managing.

Until New Year’s Eve we had not seen Otters in the waterways, so this was the first appearance. We think she is a grown female pregnant with kits, so we are very thrilled to we may have a new family of otters. This one has just succeeded in catching a rather large and tasty looking fish.

This is going to be the year when work starts in earnest to bring the lake and rivers up to a good standard, making use of the new ecosystem service payments scheme within Tier 2, or even a Tier 3, under the new Environmental Land Management Scheme.

Otters are protected so we will, of course, be ensuring that all plans fall within all published guidance. It is my view that we protect wildlife best by allowing people to see and understand it. By doing this we build respect and love for the wonderful creatures living with us on this earth so it will be natural that we should find ways to live in harmony together with them.

A lot of value is gained from creating connected spaces for wild animals which means working with landowners for connected spaces. This is where the Tier 2 and Tier 3 schemes can help bring people together with a financial incentive.

I have had some interesting experience over the last year getting involved in a couple of rewilding projects, and especially thinking about how the tax and economics work. It is quite interesting that rewilding under the new schemes with the existing tax rules can give some surprising advantages to the landowner. Not least of these is that the payments for ecosystem services where there is a plan to carry out some actions for wildlife, and especially where those payments are based on results, can be treated as trading payments. Under current this this changes the nature of the land into being an asset that can qualify for business relief for inheritance tax purposes.

As the year progresses I will of course be sharing with you, from time to time, any interesting insights we gain in putting this scheme into place.

Stephen Poole


Government guidance on protection of Otters