Book update

Photo by MikoĊ‚aj on Unsplash

I have completed my latest quarterly update on Practical Farming: Poole published electronically by Croner. The main focus of this update is a new chapter on selling ecosystem services and some commentary on the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill (ARCS) published in September.

In the tax profession we need to quickly come up to speed on ecosystem services. For this reason, I have included some definitions as this can be a confusing area for the accountant or lawyer when talking to the environmental advisers. The subtlety of meaning is important so I have tried to disentangle how the language and how the business structures work. I have been working closely with some of the country’s leading environment lawyers on trying to understand the language, and I hope I have captured their essences. I will be updating this chapter regularly as things change, and especially when the government make announcements following their consultation on the taxation of ecosystem services.

I have also been working closely with a national firm of environmental consultants and satellite data providers in designing a Biodiversity Net Gain product over the last couple of years, and this has led to all sort of interesting opportunities to consider how ecosystem services can fit into land management. More on this later when this becomes public, but I mention it how as I feel it has given me sufficient confidence to enable me to write the chapter on selling ecosystem services and especially the section on Biodiversity Net Gain.

The government commentaries published alongside ARCS demonstrated a strong commitment to Crofting so I have brought Crofting into the book. I find this approach to land use interesting, and I hope it might have an important part in the future of land use in the whole of UK, not just in Scotland. This did mean I had to add some commentary on other Scottish leases and flesh out Scottish land law a bit. I am not an expert in Scottish land law, and the differences between English and Scottish law are subtle. I hope I have struck the right balance.

The Bill also introduces new thinking on farm payments in Scotland with a new framework for how these will work from 2026, when the current holding legislation in Scotland expires.

As always let me know what you think. The book is available here: