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Government publishes guidance on conservation covenants

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The government has recently published guidance on conservation covenants.

Conservation covenants are private, voluntary agreements between a landowner and responsible body, such as a conservation charity or public body, and operate to be legally binding not only on the landowner but on subsequent owners of the land.

The guidance explains how the conservation covenants will operate. It sets out the responsibilities on the responsible body, such as:

  • Ensuring the responsible body has the skills and resources to monitor the covenant.
  • Imposing an obligation on the responsible body to ensure the information on the local land charges register is still correct where conservation covenants are changed or ended early.
  • Clarifying that the Secretary of State for the Environment will automatically become the custodian of the conservation covenant where the responsible body ceases to operate.

The guidance also states that new owners of land subject to a conservation covenant will take on liability for existing or past breaches of requirements in relation to the land. It clarifies that conservation covenants do not override existing statutory rights, obligations, planning permissions or statutory designations.

If the landowner and responsible body cannot agree on changes to the conservation covenant agreement, they can, as a last resort, take the case to the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will publish additional guidance by the end of the year on the application process for becoming a designated responsible body, the annual reporting requirements and how to register a conservation covenant as a local land charge.

Read more here

Tom Warrender


Tom Warrender


Tom is a Partner and Commercial Property Solicitor with a wealth of experience acting for clients both locally and nationally since 2005.