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9 JUL 2018

Rural conference report 2018

Change and opportunity were strong themes running through the 2018 rural conference.

Brexit

Many aspects of surveying are facing up to changes but the rural sector has the added direct challenge of the uncertainties over the outcome of Brexit. So it was appropriate and, perhaps unavoidable, that despite the knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns of the process of exiting the EU that the conference should kick off with an overview of Brexit and its’ likely impacts.

Ian Bailey, director, rural research, Savills, suggested that diversification would be key and that the impact of tariffs would mean that “trade will be the biggest headache” with livestock facing the biggest challenges.

A growing population meant it was likely that more people would be looking for leisure activities in rural areas giving further opportunities for diversification in rural areas.

A growing population meant it was likely that more people would be looking for leisure activities in rural areas giving further opportunities for diversification in rural areas.

Do we need land?

Ten percent of food is already grown in urban areas and large indoor vertical farms could play an increasing role in future production raising the question: “Do we need land?”. Opportunities to use land for gas fracking wells were outlined by a team from INEOS Shale. Landowners could get 1% of money from gas supplied from a well which for a medium-sized operation could amount to £2 million over its’ full life time.

Meanwhile, James Court, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association, gave a detailed analysis of the major changes in subsidy in the renewables sector. He predicted that there would be a move away from big power stations to more decentralised systems with community owned sites. And there was big hope around energy storage. New suppliers like Amazon could also enter the electricity market. But the biggest issue was that while we need to build new capacity there were going to be no new subsidies to pay for it before 2025.

David Chismon, partner at Saffery Champness, gave a topical update on tax changes covering inheritance tax, furnished holiday lettings, digitisation of tax returns and incorporation.

Other sessions discussed farm financing and compulsory purchase orders.

Philip Meade expanded on the recently published RICS Rural Arbitration Guidance Note and explained moves to make the system simpler and keep costs down. There is also a need to get more surveyors involved – especially women.

The valuation of development land was discussed by Robert Fourt, partner at Gerald Eve who highlighted the existing RICS guidance on same and advised on new guidance in production which also includes a focus on behaviours.