Rural Update - Spring 2012


News in brief Stormy waters for British woodland Registration of manorial mineral rights Cultural Gifts Scheme News in brief

The question of the applicability of agricultural property relief on farmhouses has recently been considered again by the courts. In Hanson, the First-tier Tribunal found in favour of the taxpayer,. It was held that, contrary to HMRC guidance, although the farmhouse and the land had to be in common occupation, common ownership was not a requirement for the character appropriate test. The farmhouse test was also considered last November when the 2010 decision in the Atkinson case was overturned in HMRC's favour. The First-tier Tribunal decision was reversed on the basis that visiting the farmhouse for farm partnership discussions, whilst living in a care home, was not sufficient for the farmhouse to have been 'occupied for the purposes of agriculture'. In a recent meeting of Parliament's European Committee Mr Paice, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, noted that if the proposed reform of farm subsidies was implemented, about 500 holdings in the UK would be affected by 'capping'. Meanwhile, on the suggested 'farming income' test, those who recall the chaos caused by RPA computer systems in the last round of reforms will agree with Mr Paice's comment that 'the idea of the RPA computer talking to the Inland Revenue computer to find out which people have earned 5% makes a chill run up one's spine'. Stormy waters for British woodland

The past century has seen a number of severe plant diseases introduced into the UK's forests and gardens, leading to growing concern for the future of native woodland in the face of exotic plant pathogens arriving from abroad. The latest serious threat to cause alarm in the UK is the fungal-like pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, otherwise known as 'sudden oak death'.

Phytophthora ramorum is threatening Larch woodland in Southern England and Wales. In 2011, almost 10,000 acres of woodland were affected by the Forestry Commission programme designed to stave the spread of the disease. It resulted in the loss of 4 million Larch trees across the region, but further outbreaks continue to cause concern.

The Forestry Commission has three heads of compensation available that are designed to assist with the effects of Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHN), served to prescribe special measures for infected sites.

Assistance with clearance

Where an SPHN requires the clearing of Larch below...

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