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Conservation Covenants: here to stay?

view over heather moor down to sea

Tom Brenan writes:

The Law Commission has recommended the introduction of conservation covenants in England and Wales. A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a responsible body to do or not do something on their land for a conservation purpose which will be binding on the current landowner and all later owners of the land to ensure that the conservation value is protected for the public benefit.

At the moment, it is possible to make personal agreements between parties for such purposes but this doesn’t bind future owners. There are various ways of working around this although they are more limited and can be complicated.

At the moment, it is possible to make personal agreements between parties for such purposes but this doesn’t bind future owners. There are various ways of working around this although they are more limited and can be complicated.

A conservation covenant must be for the benefit of the public and would be made for the purpose of conserving, protecting, restoring or enhancing:

  1. the natural environment, including flora, fauna or geological features of the land;
  2.  the natural resources of the land;
  3. the cultural, historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic features of the land; or
  4. the surroundings, setting or landscape of any land which has any of these features.

Responsible bodies would have management control of the covenants and the Law Commission have recommended that such bodies would be: the Secretary of State; Welsh Ministers; or any of the following specified by the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers: a local authority; a public body with conservation purposes or functions; or a registered or exempt charity with conservation purposes or functions.

The Law Commission now await the Government’s response.

Tom is an environmental lawyer and a director of the BDLT. There is more information on the recommendations available here: http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/conservation-covenants.htm

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