Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched its application process for organisations to become responsible bodies for the purposes of conservation covenants and published application guidance on applying. The guidance includes a summary of the acceptance criteria that Defra will use, the application form and annual return.
Conservation covenants are private, voluntary agreements between a landowner and a responsible body and operate to be legally binding not only on the landowner but on subsequent owners of the land. They are a potentially important tool for delivering mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG), which is due to be introduced in England in November 2023. Defra had originally planned to deliver guidance on the application process for designation as a responsible body by the end of 2022. Therefore, Defra’s launch of its application system has been eagerly awaited.
Defra’s guidance on its criteria for being a responsible body briefly sets out requirements for:
• Eligibility. The applicant must also be a local authority, a public body or charity where at least some of its main purposes or functions relate to conservation or a non-public body or charity where at least some of its main activities relate to conservation.
• Financial security.
• Operational capacity and capability.
• Ongoing suitability.
The application form indicates that Defra will aim to make a determination on designation as a responsible body within 12 weeks of receiving a correctly completed application form and all supporting evidence. Defra expects the first responsible bodies to be designated later in 2023.