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13 July 2015

Law firm Hewitsons (England) has acted for conservation charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), to secure the long term future of a large organic farmland estate through the acquisition of over 12,500 acres of land.The deal sees RSPB (who previously managed the land) take the tenancy of the Lake Vyrnwy estate farmland in Powys, mid Wales, from the landowners, Severn Trent Water. The land surrounds the reservoir at Lake Vyrnwy. The acquisition is one of the largest ever farmland rental deals in England and Wales, with Hewitsons helping to secure the 30 year Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) agreement for the land.As part of the complex deal, worth around £6 million, Hewitsons addressed a number of cross border issues, as well as issues with Basic Payment System and Stewardship agreements (Glastir), the acquisition of over 3,000 sheep, as well as dealing with the analysis of sporting and forestry arrangements.The agreement will secure future investment in the farm. It also means that RSPB will have more control over the farming business, allowing the charity, working with Natural Resources Wales, to develop a more sustainable grazing and farming model.Denise Wilkinson, Partner at Hewitsons LLP, said: “This agreement required a team approach to the title analysis and the ancillary contracts. We have been involved with this for some years but then the terms finally came together and timing was a huge issue. With so many unusual aspects to the deal we had to rise to any number of challenges. Throughout negotiations we had to take into account a number of considerations, but in the end we managed to guarantee the satisfaction of all parties involved. The success of this highly complicated agreement confirms why many of our clients will turn to us for difficult cases. We are delighted to have played a part in securing the RSPB’s role in this iconic landscape for the future.”The tenancy allows the RSPB the chance to pursue other conservation work, starting with its successful application to the Nature Fund in Wales and to build on the blanket bog restoration it has done under European Life funding.The land at the Lake Vyrnwy estate is made up of approximately 12,000 acres of upland farm, moor and blanket bog. The land and surrounding area is important for wildlife such as birds, beetles and moths, storing carbon in its blanket bog and providing drinking water to Liverpool from the lake.  The farm will continue to be organic and the RSPB will use its experience to share knowledge with other tenants on the estate.

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