Tag Archive: landowner

The increasing importance of CFA compliance

As we approach the end of harvest for another year thought turns to taking stock of the year past as well as planning for next year and beyond. This is a busy time of the year for us in the office as we are reviewing our Contract Farming Agreements (CFA’s), producing annual reconciliations and holding pre drilling meetings to instruct contractors for the season ahead. What is becoming more and more important is that CFAs are correctly drafted and implemented. It is clear that HMRC are now looking very closely at not only the formal agreement but also the practical implementation of the agreement. A number of cases now exist where a CFA has not been implemented properly and as a result the benefits of using such an agreement have not been fulfilled, often leaving the landowner/farmer or their family significantly exposed to taxation.

CFA

The simple exchange of cheques once a year will no longer be good enough to demonstrate proper use of a CFA. The farmer/landowner needs to show evidently that they are still taking financial risk from the enterprise, and not simply receiving a ‘rent’ through a false agreement. Essentially the theme of the agreement should clearly demonstrate that the Farmer is “farming with contractors”.

It is essential that meetings are held, ideally quarterly, and that they are recorded. A dedicated CFA, number two, bank account needs to be setup, funded and managed regularly by the farmer. Profit share arrangements need to be agreed in advance of crop planting and be detailed within the written agreement. If insufficient profit is made, then the farmer’s return will be at risk and reduced accordingly.

As part of demonstrating that the farmer is partaking in the risk of growing the crop, subsidy income should form part of the income. It is also key when planning the cropping with the Contractor that any ‘Greening’ requirements and Ecological Focus Areas (EFA’s) are met. With alterations to the Greening rules in the last few years we are taking the opportunity to review EFA plans with farmers to better utilise that land available for cropping.

As a business we have dedicated team of farm secretaries running CFA accounts for many farmers. This allows us to offer a complete package service, by working closely with your accountant and solicitor to ensure that you remain compliant with the latest legislation to remain actively farming the land. With the increasing scrutiny HMRC are subjecting these agreements to it is essential that not only do you have a proper and robust agreement in place, but it is actually run and implemented in full accordance with the agreement made. The loses from not complying are significant and will be costly.

Get in touch with Andrew Jamieson, Partner, and his team by calling 01361 883488, alternatively, email andrewjamieson@georgefwhite.co.uk 

Development Opportunities in the Selby Area

This consultation includes plans and the initial assessments of all possible sites that could be included in the Site Allocations Local Plan next year in the Selby area; it is also a last opportunity to suggest new sites. The Site Allocations Local Plan will ultimately identify enough land for the homes and jobs and other development needs in the Selby district over the next ten years up to 2028.

Development in Selby

Helen Boston, a planning consultant at George F. White, said: “This is an ideal opportunity for landowners to seek professional and informed advice about their assets and potential development land. We are currently working with a number of landowners across the region providing specialist advice on planning policy and enforcement issues as well as site appraisals, planning applications and site valuations. ”

George F. White provides planning consultancy services for both rural and urban areas across a vast geography from North Lincolnshire and Yorkshire to County Durham, Northumberland and the Borders. The Yorkshire region is a particularly key focus for the business, the Bedale and Shiptonthorpe offices has seen a dramatic rise in planning advice requests from local landowners in the last 12 months.

Helen added: “The planning system in England can be very complicated but navigated successfully it can be a tool to significantly raise the value of land and property in a variety of ways. For example, from gaining planning permission for an extension on your home, to gaining planning permission for a housing site and selling to a developer. Whatever the situation, George F. White is able to investigate the options and provide advice on the best route to achieve our client’s aims and help them maximise value of their assets.”

Please be aware that the ‘Call for Sites’ closes on 27th November 2017 therefore any formal responses need to be submitted prior to this date.

If you have a site which you think may be suitable and would like an initial assessment please contact Helen Boston at George F. White on helenboston@georgefwhite.co.uk or 01677 458209 for further advice.

Utility Company Access – what are your rights?

Many property occupiers will have some form of utility apparatus crossing their land, be it pylons, electric/BT poles, gas and water pipes. The rights granted to these companies are covered by many old draconian acts, dating back many years and grant certain rights to install, maintain and repair apparatus.

We have seen a sudden increase in new schemes being instigated mostly looking at renewing existing lines or replacing equipment; particularly the electric board and BT with the start of fibre optic rollout.

It’s really important that you as a land occupier know your rights and what the utility company can or can’t do. We find that in most circumstances, the operators use subcontractors who think they can just go on the land, do what they like, when they like and cause whatever damage they like.

The starting point is to look at the acts that grant the statutory powers. Is there a wayleave or easement and does that restrict them to certain rights, such as access or equipment? We have recently been involved with a scheme where the utility company needed to replace the foundations on a pylon; the easement allowed them to replace but not create a new bigger foundation; this technical issue resulted in re-negotiating a new agreement and crystallising a large claim for injurious affection. Many are also so badly planned that the landowner is the last person they speak to; in which case has the correct notice for entry been served or do they need to come in early? Can they install a compound or welfare site? Whilst many would say they can do all this, in most circumstances we find they can’t and that creates a negotiating position.

You must be really careful about what you allow them to do. So for example, if they travelling between two farms are you ensuring that they are washing down to prevent spread of livestock diseases or Black Grass seeds? Have they provided security for equipment left on site – we had one case where a pole rolled onto a sheep and killed it overnight!

In terms of compensation, the statutory position is to put you into a position that you would have been had the works not occurred. It is vital that you keep a record of all the time that you spend or your increased disturbance as a result of the works. Particularly if it’s a major pylon restring or pipeline, you will be amazed at what additional time is spent by you during the scheme and trying the remember the detail at the end is always impossible, so keep a record daily as you go on –it then becomes an unarguable point.

Finally, it impacts on any property occupier, whether you are a householder with works in the garden, farmer or commercial property owner – if they are taking entry under statutory powers make sure you are fully compensated for your losses.

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