The Crown Estate and Velcourt form Northumberland farming venture

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The Crown Estate has partnered with Velcourt, Europe’s leading farm business manager, to create an innovative new venture to manage the 4,500 acre Ellington Estate in Northumberland.

A unique Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) developed by The Crown Estate will see rent divided between a base and a variable rent linked to the production and success of the holding, unlike standard FBTs where the variable element is based on prices in the market. This venture is the first of its kind for The Crown Estate, which, as one of the UK’s largest rural land owners, manages a circa 360,000 acre portfolio of forest, farm and common land, with agricultural estates mainly let to tenant farmers. The new style of FBTv has been designed specifically to facilitate partnership working and investment by both the land owner and farm manager to maximise productivity and returns.

In addition to the Velcourt agreement, The Crown Estate has also let a 92 ha livestock enterprise to local farming business Annett & Sons on a seven year FBT agreement. As with all current forms of FBT issued by The Crown Estate, this agreement includes a focus on the long term sustainability of the farm, for example through provisions around sustainable soil management.

To further enhance the quality of the estate’s arable land holding, The Crown Estate is also progressing a £400,000 investment designed to improve drainage systems, with a primary focus on upgrading the farm’s fixed equipment.

Ken Jones, Director of the Rural and Coastal Portfolio for The Crown Estate said: “The agreements with Velcourt and Annett & Sons and our on-going investment at Ellington encapsulate the progressive approach to land management which we believe is essential to maximise the productivity and long term sustainability of our portfolio. The new partnership structure we’ve developed with Velcourt is particularly exciting as being directly involved in the management of the land will provide high quality data which will be invaluable in developing innovative management solutions across our portfolio.”

James Townsend, Chief Executive of Velcourt, said: “Joining forces with one of the UK’s largest and most experienced agricultural land owners on its newest acquisition is a fantastic opportunity. We are looking forward to working with The Crown Estate’s team and contributing our experience and skills to create a high yielding, high quality UK farming venture.”

The Crown Estate purchased the Ellington Estate from Rio Tinto in spring 2014. The estate includes agricultural land, farm buildings, 19 homes, and an operational 13 turbine wind farm leased to Scottish Power Renewables.

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