Farmland near Slough - Farmlands in Outshining Natural Beauty

by : Peter Lo

Around 70% of the UK land area is farmland and much of our wildlife is found here. Farmland biodiversity in the UK has been in catastrophic decline for the last thirty years. For example, since 1970, skylark populations have fallen by 54%, grey partridges by 86%, corn buntings by 89% and tree sparrows by 94%. Similar fates have been met by mammals, such as the brown hare, as well as insects and farmland plants, many of which are now endangered species.

There is overwhelming evidence that these declines are related to the reduction of food and habitats available within agricultural areas, which have been lost as farming systems have intensified. In its Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food the Government has committed to reversing the decline in farmland wildlife.

Early indications suggest that an increase in the volume of publicly marketed farmland near slough is likely this year. There are a number of reasons for this potential growth in activity including falling profitability in the wake of reduced subsidy payments and weak commodity prices and retirement, which during 2005 accounted for 38% of sales.

Crispin Holborow head of Savills farm sales comments, "We do not expect the national supply to exceed or even reach the levels recorded in the early 1990's. To reach that sort of level this year an additional 125,000 acres (70%) of land would have to be marketed over and above the volume recorded for 2005."

In England over a 50-year period, the market has shrunk from about 675,000 acres in 1950 to about 200,000 acres in 2000, a reduction of 70%. Some 75,000 acres are lost from agriculture each year in England to uses including urbanisation, forestry and leisure.

However, many farmers will use the single payment scheme (SPS) as an opportunity to restructure their businesses in order to retain the farm and family home. Also a considerable acreage is owned by non-farming landowners who are relatively unaffected by any pressure put on farm incomes. Demand for farmland is still strong from lifestyle and investment buyers, including those from overseas, many of whom regard UK farmland near slough as cheap compared to their native land prices.

Also in the past two year the buying activity of commercial farmers has increased, a trend which is predicted to continue. Commenting on farmland near slough values, Holborow says, "We expect values to be maintained in 2006 with continued growth in some sectors, namely for properties which have residential or amenity value and good quality, well equipped commercial farms."