Sponsored: farmers future proofing with nature restoration

Richard and John are part of a growing number of farmers integrating new environmental diversification schemes into their farming business
sponsored: Habitat Bank
Richard and John Pendlebury, of Yate Fold Farm

Like many farmers, Richard and John Pendlebury, of Yate Fold Farm, Greater Manchester, found making an income from their family farm no longer financially viable, due to rising costs and plummeting returns. They needed a new plan if they wanted the third-generational family farm to continue profitably - and they turned to nature restoration.

Yate Fold Farm Habitat Bank

Yate Fold Farm near Bolton is owned by the Pendlebury family, who were looking to diversify their farm’s income by creating a 49-hectare high-quality, landscape-scale Habitat Bank including lowland meadow, natural grassland, lowland fen and ponds.

The farm has been in the family since the 1950’s, but its grade four pasture land has not always proved the most reliable for generating an income. Farm manager Richard was determined to explore and implement new farming practices to ensure a sustainable and diverse income for himself and his family going forwards.

Richard said: “The benefits, including financial are abundant – we’ll receive funding for at least 30 years. This is very reassuring, as it is a guaranteed source of income for a considerable period of time. Such assurance is quite rare in the farming landscape.

“We’ll also be able to boost our income from the new cattle on the land. The breed of cattle I’m going to invest in will graze for conservation purposes, improving the quality of the land, but I’ll also be able to rear them for meat production.

“Diversification is the way to go for small businesses like ours. Sometimes, you just need to take the blinkers off and open your eyes to new opportunities.

“Importantly, now, we’ll be able to pursue a work-life balance, which is especially important with a young family, and the farm will hopefully be secured for generations to come.”

Working with farmers across England

Habitat Bank creation is happening at quite a pace; there are already over 20 sites underway, with an additional 60 scheduled to commence over the rest of this year. Since launching its multi-award-winning Habitat Bank scheme, Environment Bank has seen enquiries soar, and it is looking to establish over 2,000 hectares of Habitat Banks over the next few years.

The Yate Fold Habitat Bank is on track, with initial groundworks being carried out this year. The family, with support from the ecologists at Environment Bank, will be establishing the Habitat Bank to encourage wildlife back to the area such as Lapwing and Curlew which are in decline locally.

How Habitat Banks generate income

Farmers that partner with Environment Bank to create a Habitat Bank (typically upwards of 20 hectares in size) still retain ownership of their land, with Environment Bank taking a lease interest. Environment Bank makes its money by generating Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Units enabling developers to meet their obligations under the Environment Act, whilst managing the complex implementation processes with all liability and risk sitting with them.

Environment Bank pays landowners up to £27,000 per hectare, over a 30-year period with fixed annual uplifts to counter inflation for the management and lease of the land.

If you would like any advice or further information on creating a Habitat Bank on your land, please call 01904 202 990.