0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

a binding legacy for future landowners: Conservation Covenants

11 February 2019

The Government has launched a consultation to consider the introduction of 'Conservation Covenants'. The proposals could result in new legal safeguards to take action against landowners in order to protect nature or heritage sites.

Initially, these will be voluntary commitments. However, once introduced they will be legally binding on future landowners; leaving behind a lasting conservation legacy which new landowners will need to follow.

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, remarked that these have been a successful integration in many other countries. "Conservation covenants are a valuable new tool to help protect our precious countryside.”

They are intended to unleash a new wave of safeguards for the natural environment and act as an integral aspect of the Government's 25-year environment plan. As well as having the effect of a legal covenant to prevent certain actions, these covenants can be used to encourage positive environmental actions. For example, to protect an archaeological site or protect a heritage site that has been restored before its sale. Up until now, conservation bodies have needed to buy up biodiverse plots in order to fully protect them. This could be a viable alternative where bodies can instead set out payments and obligations for a landowner in an agreement. Moreover, they could be used to enforce drainage obligations or protect woodland on land to prevent flooding.

The proposed covenants could take a number of forms including:

  • a tool to preserve of the land for altruistic purposes, for example, permission for the public to access private land;
  • security for historic or heritage sites;
  • a facility for conservation bodies to acquire or dispose of land without having to make a formal purchase;
  • obligations to make payments for ecosystem services; and
  • obligations to use land in socially beneficial ways or improve local biodiversity as a means of protecting natural habitats and biodiverse plots.

CLA President, Tim Breitmayer said: “Conservation covenants have the potential to help deliver a range of environmental and other public benefits across the countryside. In the right circumstances they can be an important tool for those landowners who are considering long term investment in the environment.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Director of Conservation leaves us optimistic for the future, “to restore nature in a generation, we need to think and act differently. Conservation covenants are a good example of a new approach which could drive transformational change for nature. By making these covenants a statutory scheme, with clear criteria and oversight, it would help speed up transactions between developers, landowners and conservation bodies, to the environmental and financial benefits of all.”

DEFRA states that "these plans are a further step in our ambition to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”

Government is encouraging people to have a say on the proposals the proposals which will form part of the forthcoming Environmental Bill.

See: Press release: Gove unveils new covenants to protect nature.

Receive our latest government sector news

Choose the way you want to keep up to date with our latest updates and insights. Sign up to our monthly newsletter or join the conversation with our team on LinkedIn.

Sign up to receive updates >

Follow our LinkedIn showcase page >


training and events


Lunchtime learning session on Ocean Outdoor -v- London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Nottingham office

The Court of Appeal has recently handed down judgment in Ocean Outdoor v London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Join us on our lunchtime learning session about this case.

View event


Managing procurement risks and challenges Manchester office

Have you ever received a letter challenging a regulated procurement procedure? Has your authority ever had proceedings issued against it for breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015?

View event

focus on...

Upcoming webinars

Poole Borough Council -v- GN [2019] UKSC 25 – What does this mean for my organisation?

Six months on from the Supreme Court decision in the Poole Borough Council -v- GN case we look at emerging behaviours in response to this key decision, and its impact on agencies involved in child protection, including health, police, social care and education.


Legal updates

Devolution deal for Metro Mayors

Devolution in England has resulted in a number of devolution deals with combined authorities created, certain powers developed and local mayors elected.


Care Quality Commission and health & care regulatory update 7 November

Carl May-Smith provides an update on CQC & Competitions & Markets Authority enforcement.


Legal updates

ECJ guidance on applying exclusions to potential problem bidders

Rebecca McLean reviews the case of Delta Antrepriză de Construcţii şi Montaj 93 SA v Compania Naţională de Administrare a Infrastructurii Rutiere SA, which highlights the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ’s) recent ruling on the interpretation of Article 57(4) of Directive 2014/24 (the public procurement directive), which provides useful clarification over when contracting authorities can apply exclusions grounds where an economic operator has been in default under a prior public contract.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up