The Environmental Farmers Group (EFG) is a cooperative formed by farmers in Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset to carry out coordinated environmental projects on a catchment scale. The EFG consists of more than 230 farmers at present, covering 116,000 hectares, which accounts for over one percent of England's farmland. They are also expanding their operations into regions like North Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, and Yorkshire.
One challenge in the construction industry today is complying with the changing legal requirements to offset the environmental impact of developments. Often, developers struggle to find suitable land parcels and farmers to fulfil these requirements. EFG offers a practical solution by acting as a single point of contact through their partner, Natural Capital Advisory (NCA). They provide access to a network of hundreds of enthusiastic farmers who can offer nutrient and Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) offsets and other environmental services in various locations across England.
The EFG has a deep understanding of the functioning of natural capital markets and is well-versed in the challenges faced by housing developers and Local Planning Authorities (LPAs). They have an impressive track record of successfully execution of phosphate-offset agreements and are currently managing several requests for nutrient and BNG offsets at various stages of completion. It indicates their readiness with all the necessary processes and documentation, which expedites the delivery of environmental solutions.
Rob Shepherd, the chairman of EFG, highlighted that the farmers within the group have an impressive history of achieving conservation successes consistently. They also have gained the respect and recognition of conservation and government agencies. The ultimate goal of EFG is to become the main platform for developers and planners to carry out environmental trades. They are now the best-known resource in this field.
EFG is focused on establishing a balanced approach to valuing credits that benefit its members, developers, and Local Planning Authorities (LPAs). They want to avoid situations where developers are overcharged for offset projects and where farmers receive inadequate funding to cover the costs of providing environmental services. Both situations do not serve the long-term interests of either party.
Thanks to its unbiased funding structure and rigorous assurance standards, EFG has received support from the government. They regularly engage with organisations like Natural England, Defra, and the Environment Agency. EFG was recently recognised in the government's Green Finance Strategy as a model of how farmers can contribute to achieving national goals related to clean water, biodiversity recovery, and carbon neutrality.
EFG is currently assessing the feasibility of nutrient offset solutions from its member farmers. This involves identifying multiple environmental projects that can be executed on farms and computing the number of biodiversity units or nutrient credits associated with these projects. These ready-to-implement options provide developers with many choices to meet various offset requirements. EFG is not just focused on long-term projects. They are also developing short-term nutrient reduction solutions. This involves practices like cover cropping and fallow-land management on farmland. These solutions offer bridging credits for developers while they await the construction of wetlands and other similar extended offset schemes.
Apart from aiding house builders in meeting local and national planning requirements, EFG is also providing solutions that benefit other sectors as well. These include assisting food supply chains in mitigating their environmental impact, helping water companies adhere to regulations, and supporting organisations seeking to enhance their Environmental Social Governance (ESG) scores, which can boost investment appeal and shareholder value.
EFG is a cooperative founded by farmers in Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset dedicated to implementing coordinated environmental projects on a catchment scale.
EFG comprises over 230 farmers, covering 116,000 hectares, representing over one percent of England's farmland. They are expanding their operations into regions like North Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, and Yorkshire.
EFG has a strong track record of successfully executing phosphate offset agreements and managing requests for nutrient and BNG offsets. They are recognised as a model for how farmers can contribute to national goals related to clean water, biodiversity recovery, and carbon neutrality.
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