Leasing common land

Discussion in 'Tenant Farming, Subsidies, BPS & Legal Issues' started by hannah_D, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. hannah_D

    hannah_D New Member

    Thanks for the advice in advance.

    Me and my husband are making the leap into buying a smallholding. The property comes with the rights to graze 200 sheep over quite a large parcel of common land on a mountainside in north wales.

    We will want to start small, so we won't be using this initially. We'd like to be able to rent it out so we can invest in the farm. Is it possible to rent out our rights to common land? I can't find much advice on this, some sites suggest this is not allowed, but I've seen some suggest that you can but only for 2 years?

    BW Hannah
  2. egbert

    egbert Member

    Don't know how it goes in Wakes, but locally (SW England).....

    Almost all commons have more rights registered on them than they can carry.
    (It's not as mad as it sounds, as not every commoner will be turning out at once, while human nature dictates that everyone registered as much as pos)
    In times of headage payments, many commons were being overgrazed (allegedly...)

    If the common is not 'in agreement', then Gov agencies may already be looking at it to restrict % of rights permitted to graze, using cross compliance as the 'stick'.

    Leasing rights is very frowned upon at best, and not allowed in many cases.
    The rights to graze are attached to your inbye, which, in a fair an logical world,a should be available to give logistical support to the hill stock.
    (logic and fairness are not always manifest in matters pertaining to common grazing)

    Outside of agreement, on a common currently understocked, there should a be a modest margin in grazing the right type of sheep, with the right attitude to management and expenditure.
    Although if the common is already understocked, it would suggest it doesn't pay. If it's well stocked, your 200 would only cause a problem.

    As a stark set of maths....
    counting my time gathering, dipping costs, a share of the rent of the farm, allowance for share of fencing budget etc etc, my hill ewes leave me with £2/ head on a fair year. This year they haven't covered the expenses.

    that said, on a friendly common, where forage is available, and you understand the limitations, it is a precious and rare way to farm.

    You've many questions to answer before commencing, and if you don't get any useful info from your side of Offas Dyke, PM me and I'll put you in touch with the right people.
    mezz and Fowler VF like this.
  3. hannah_D

    hannah_D New Member

    Thanks so much this is very useful advice. We will not be rushing to rent it out then!
  4. Y Fan Wen

    Y Fan Wen Member

    N W Snowdonia
    It's quite likely that this common is in the Glastir Commons Scheme. In which case you will be eligible for the part of the grant which the vendor is getting now. This could have been forgotten in the sale. Your farm doesn't have to be in Glastir in order to get Glastir Common. The 2 are separate.
    Old Tip likes this.
  5. hannah_D

    hannah_D New Member

    Do you have to have sheep on the land to get the grant? The vendor doesn't farm at all, so she is probably not aware of the grant.
  6. Y Fan Wen

    Y Fan Wen Member

    N W Snowdonia
    No, you only have to have the common right. See if you can get in touch with the secretary of the common management committee. A register of commoners is kept at local govt offices. I see you quote N Wales so try Caernarfon for Caernarfonshire and Dolgellau for Meirioneth.
    Do you mind my asking which common you are talking about?
    Old Tip likes this.
  7. hannah_D

    hannah_D New Member

    I'm not exactly sure, the husband is dealing with that specific bit of paperwork with the solicitor etc. It's not something we knew about until recently as it we only found out through some of the documents. We'll have to do some research I think. Thanks so much for your advice!
  8. Old Tip

    Old Tip Member

    There should be a change common association for the common or similar group made up of rights holders. If you can find out who is the chair or sec then they should be able to help
  9. Flat 10

    Flat 10 Member

    Fen Edge
    Why should someone get money for having common right and doing nothing to it? Nearly as crazy as bps....
  10. Old Tip

    Old Tip Member

    They get BPS too, it’s bonkers
    Flat 10 and egbert like this.
  11. egbert

    egbert Member

    (Wales may differ, but....)
    A common might attract a given sum, if it can be managed in a way which pleases the gov dept with the cheque book.
    The sum is offered to the commoners to allocate how they need to, according to individual circumstance.
    Many early agreements centred on payment to remove stock, while lately many are more focused on payment for active grazing (a telling sign)
    Those with stock to manage would reasonably expect more of the overall payment, but...and this is the biggie....if they try to take too much (or all), they're simply begging for the 'non graziers' to pile in with stock to destabilise.
    It's a balance, and has often intensified long running smouldering feuds and animosities.
    Some commons fail to strike agreement, and the money goes unclaimed, even some which are placed under stocking restriction due to alleged overgrazing. (IE, they have the restrictions, but don't pick up the money)
    Some of us suspect it's been a cynical way of keeping us bickering amongst ourselves.

    BPS meanwhile, has been allocated by dividing the area of the common by the number of units registered altogether (less those held by folk who don't claim BPS...hope you're up with me....
    DEFRA infamously tried to lose the rights which weren't being claimed, saving themselves a few million, but one group took them to task, and ascertained that the full amount of money has to be shared out between those eligible claimants.
    Once the precedent was set, the resultant back payments have taken some years to sort out,as the number of commoners claiming each year might vary - I know of dead commoners who've reached from the beyond to claim their back payments.
    Matters are further complicated by commoners with rights across multiple commons, (often duplicate or triplicate registrations). in some cases, gov are dividing these multiples between the commons, making allowance for differing size, and density of registrations.
    How they're doing it is almost certainly open to challenge, but to dodge this, they simply won't tell you how they're working it out.
    Again, the equation changes every year.

    To say this has wee'ed of DEFRA would be an understatement, and they're very anxious not to allow such a mess again.
    Stand by for a changed system post brexit.........
    Flat 10 likes this.
  12. Old Tip

    Old Tip Member

    Well said @egburt the whole set up is a mine field especially on commons where the non graziers out weigh the graziers.
    Mind the new ideas coming out from Gove towers are even more ludicrous as the owners of rights could claim even if they don’t actively farm at all. This is an open invitation for the big landowners to not let the rights with the farms and keep the cash
  13. egbert

    egbert Member

    oh grief....I thought he was getting genned up better than that.
    Hey ho.

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