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INSIGHT: LAND DIVERSIFICATION

A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

As the growth of the agricultural sector slows, 61% of the UK’s land owners look to diversification for a secure, sustainable future. Now in the face of economic challenges and uncertainties more and more will seek to diversify how they use their land, making their spaces more profitable and sustainable in the process.

While agriculture still provides land owners with 36.9% of their incomes, this figure was 48.7% in 2000. The future doesn’t look too promising, either; with Brexit comes an end to the EU’s agricultural subsidies – a substantial sum of £3 billion. No solid replacement subsidy systems are planned so far. Land owners still invested in a single source of income will be dangerously placing their eggs in one basket.

SPREADING THE RISK

Diversification may just be the answer UK land owners are looking for. Defined as the “entrepreneurial use of farm resources for a non-agricultural purpose for commercial gain” – diversified activities are seeing explosive growth with incomes increasing at an average of 60% over the last three years. These activities include commerce, residential, leisure activities, green energy, and more.

The telecoms industry is another area worth exploring. Partnering with rural land owners, telecoms providers can offer rural land owners a source of additional revenue - for minimal work on their part. Naturally, there are many areas of diversification to choose from. As planning and environmental experts, VG Consulting can help you make that choice.

WHY SHOULD LAND OWNERS DIVERSIFY?

1. Increased income – Land owners who diversify may benefit from £10,400 in additional revenues each year – with the likes of residential, commerce and eco-energy having minimal interference with existing farm activities.

2. Long-term security – Diversified land is resilient to the ever-changing market. As sectors diminish or face new challenges – e.g. agriculture – land owners who diversify soften potential economic blows. This increases the survivability of their business and the chances it’ll grow, be passed down through the family or sold for profit.

3. A new perspective – Expanding to new industries and activities teaches land owners valuable skills and helps foster an entrepreneurial mindset. This helps them view their businesses in terms of potential for growth, not simply ‘surviving’ the continued economic challenges and pressures of the agricultural industry.

Naturally, the activities to diversify land will depend on a variety of economic, geographic, socio-political and personal factors. While one well-situated farm may benefit from residential, leisure and tourist activities, another with a desire to be self-sufficient and environmentally-friendly might want to explore eco-energy options.

Despite the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the UK in 2016, not all is doom and gloom. For land owners, these adversities may even be positives when it comes to diversification. Both domestic and international tourism will increase substantially due to a weaker pound – increasing the potential revenues of businesses involved in leisure and tourism. The challenges of global warming mean eco-energy technologies are more readily available, affordable and universally supported. The UK’s housing crisis also means developing or repurposing places and spaces is easier and more profitable due to increased demand and ever-relaxed government regulations. The reality is that diversification has never been as convenient or timely for landowners and developers as it is now.

THE CHALLENGES OF DIVERSIFICATION

Diversification – despite its numerous benefits is not simple. Transforming a business or repurposing land is a complex process that takes time, costs money, and requires expertise and knowledge. Added to that, getting projects through planning is a huge hurdle. In fact, over 50% of farmers surveyed by the National Farmers Union (NFU) said that attaining planning permission was the main challenge in their renewable energy development projects. For each project, a wide range of skills and information are required, from design to development, through to post-construction. Micromanaging each stage of the project can be a substantial challenge for the most experienced project manager.

EXPERIENCE, SKILLSETS AND COMMUNICATION ARE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL BUILD PROJECTS. VG CONSULTING PROVIDES THE TEAM THAT TICKS ALL THE BOXES.

With hundreds of consented planning applications and successful projects under our belt, VG Consulting helps land owners and developers with every step of their projects. We act as an external planning and environmental department to your business without the organisational hassle or running costs. With a team of highly-skilled consultants and a network of contacts, VG Consulting can add value by bringing the expertise to make sure your project is a success.

CALL VG CONSULTING AT 01563 829 999 TO FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP MAKE YOUR LAND MORE PROFITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE THROUGH DIVERSIFICATION.

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