& Funding


& Regulation




& Safety



Warwickshire Rural Hub

Legislation & Regulation

Changes to Hemp Licensing announced

For every tonne of hemp produced, 1.63 tonnes of carbon is removed from the air, which makes hemp an effective sequester of carbon dioxide.  The roots of the hemp plant grow strong and up to nine feet deep, and the root networks can help to hold the soil together and prevent erosion  Hemp can only be cultivated outdoors under the Home Office’s ‘industrial hemp’ licensing regime for the purposes of fibre and seed production. A first-time licence costs £580. Licences are issued for three growing seasons. Repeat growers currently pay £326.  Under the planned changes, licence holders will be able to grow hemp anywhere on a licensed farm and the maximum period for a licence will be extended from three to six years, subject to compliance with the terms of the licence.  The proposals, which have been developed in collaboration with experienced growers, include an option to apply for a licence with a deferred start date by up to one year. These changes are planned to come into effect for the 2025 growing season.

Permitted poultry and pig farms are now required to produce a Climate Change Risk Assessment

The Environment Agency has brought in a new requirement for all existing permitted pig and poultry farms to produce a climate change risk assessment.  There is already a requirement for new permits. The assessment should identify risks and propose mitigation strategies.  The EA expects all operators to at least have completed a climate change risk assessment by 1 April 2024.   By 31 October 2026 the EA expect all permitted poultry farms to have appropriate climate change adaptation planning as part of their management system.  AHDB has set up some model templates to help farmers complete the assessments.  Visit this page to download the templates.

All poultry keepers must now register their flock with Defra

All poultry keepers will be required to register their birds with Defra this autumn, even if they own just a couple of birds in a garden.. Currently, only those who keep 50 birds or more are required to submit their details. But as part of a move to tighten up on disease control in the wake of recent avian influenza outbreaks, this is being extended to all poultry keepers.   After registering their birds, keepers receive important updates, such as local avian disease outbreaks and information on biosecurity rules to help protect their flocks.  The register will also be used to identify all bird keepers in disease control zones, allowing for more effective surveillance.

New rules for urea-based fertilisers from 1 April 2024

The new rules state that uninhibited solid urea can only be used from 15 January to 31 March, as part of efforts to limit emissions. The new rules only apply to England and affect any fertiliser that contains 1% or more of urea and is soil-applied.  It means solid urea fertilisers must be used with an inhibitor for most of the year.  Uninhibited liquid urea can be used from 15 January to 31 March but must be used with an inhibitor from 1 April unless agronomic justification is provided by a FACTS-qualified farm personnel or adviser.  Compliance will be overseen by Red Tractor, with farm inspections including records of responsible fertiliser use.




Extension to scope of Agricultural Property Relief

The Government has announced an extension to the existing scope of Agricultural Property Relief.  This will now include all Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs), covering the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Countryside Stewardship (and other stewardship schemes) and Landscape Recovery, as well as the England Woodland Creation Offer and other similar schemes from 6 April 2025. .This means farmers and landowners taking part in such schemes will be eligible for Agricultural Property Relief and exempt from relevant inheritance tax.   It also removes a significant barrier to tenant farmers and landlords collaborating to enter schemes by removing the risk that tenants’ participation in schemes would change whether the land is eligible for APR.  Read more on this Defra blog post.


Changes to list of government approved disinfectants

Recent changes made to the list of approved disinfectants throughout February by Defra have resulted in the suspension of some commonly sourced disinfectants for a range of diseases including bTB and a variety of poultry diseases.  If there is a notifiable disease outbreak on your farm, by law you must use a Defra-approved disinfectant at the correct concentration and dilution rate for the specific disease.

Read about the changes to the list of approved disinfectants on this page.  View the list of Government approved disinfectants on this page.

New proposed hedgerow regulations will replicate the approach under cross compliance

In June last year, Defra launched a consultation on how hedgerows should be protected in England.   The summary of the responses and the government’s response has now been published.   There was overwhelming agreement from respondents that hedgerows are valuable assets for wildlife and the environment and protections were clearly supported.   In total, 96% of responses agreed with the proposal to maintain a buffer strip.  98% agreed with the proposal to maintain a cutting ban period. Farmers were firmly supportive, with 82% agreeing to a buffer strip and 85% to a cutting ban period.  There was consensus that hedges should be protected in law. This is what the government seeks to do through new regulations.  The proposed regulations will replicate the approach already familiar to most farmers from the previous cross compliance rules.   As before, they will require a 2-metre buffer strip measured from the centre of the hedge, where no cultivation or application of pesticides or fertilisers must happen.  This is to prevent harm to the structure and health of the hedge. The new regulations will also follow the cross compliance approach and ban the cutting of hedges between 1 March and 31 August, protecting nesting birds during that period.    You can read more about the government’s response on this Defra blog.  

Rules for farmers post cross compliance from 2024 onwards

2023 is the final year of Cross Compliance and all rules must be followed by farmers receiving a single farm payment until 31 December of this year.   From 1 January 2024
Cross Compliance ends as a sanction mechanism and will not apply to delinked payments.  However, most cross compliance standards will continue to apply to farm activities as they are enshrined in other English laws.  Defra has established a Farm Regulation Hub which lists all of the legal requirements for farmers and land managers.  You can access the Hub on this page.

Defra is also looking at ways to fill the gaps in Cross Compliance rules which are not covered by current laws together with better ways of using existing enforcement tools.  They have also run recent consultations on how to protect and manage hedgerows and improve livestock traceability.

Build a Health and Safety Policy for your business with the Farm Safety Foundation

Farming is a business and every business needs a health and safety policy.  If the business employs more than 5 employees, the law says that this policy needs to be in writing.   Farm safety is good basic common sense and a health and safety policy doesn’t need to be lengthy or complicated.  It just needs to be tailored to your business and set out who does what and when.    It is also important to regularly review the policy and keep it up to date.

The Farm Safety Foundation has created an online ‘Build Your Own Health & Safety Policy’ digital tool which will take you through a series of simple questions and create a policy just for you. It’s quick and so easy to do – in fact, it’s so easy you could even do it on your phone. It’s free, it can be changed or updated when needed, and it might just save a life.  Visit this page to get started on building your policy.

Read the rules and regulations for farmers and land managers all on one page

Following feedback, Defra has established a new page on its website which lists all of the rules and regulations for farmers and land managers in one place.  The rules are also arranged in a more intuitive way, by the activities that you undertake.  Defra is keen for further feedback on the new page, so please try and send them your thoughts.  Access the new page here.  

RPA moves towards partnership approach for visits

The Rural Payments Agency has introduced a more supportive, partnership-based approach to inspections, moving away from the penalty-based system under the EU, to farmer-focused visits for schemes such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship.  To reflect this change, inspections are now referred to as visits. Inspectors are now referred to as Field Officers and the Inspectorate is known as the Regulatory and Advice Service.  As part of this supportive approach, a new visit record checklist has been introduced which will help inform farmers of their responsibilities.

Read more here.

Reminder on water abstraction licences

If your current water abstraction licence is due to expire, and you want to continue to abstract, you need to apply for a new licence at least 3 months before the existing licence expires.  For more information on applying for a water abstraction licence, please visit this website.

Email Address:
Website: Open Website

Would you Like to

Donate to the Hub?



A donation to the Rural Hub of any amount is always gratefully received. However, only donations of over £100 can be acknowledged on our Hub Supporter's page.  A donation can be paid by cheque, BACS, standing order or by the Paypal link below.  If you would like our bank details please contact the Co-ordinator on 



Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
Archway Cottage, 2 Church Street, Marton, Rugby CV23 9RL

Tel: 07780 159291

Company Registration No: 7026157
Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA


Rural Hub


Jane Hampson

Tel: 07780 159291


Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Karen Ellis (Chair)
Amy Brant
Rosemary Collier
Emlyn Evans
Ian Jelley
Henry Lucas
Marion Perrett Pearson
Alexandra Robinson


Environmental Steering Group Members

Zoe Bell (Chair)
Tony Beysens
Meehal Grint, Kings Seeds
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Louis Phipps, Bragborough Estate
Zoe Burrows, Rookery Farm




The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

© 2018 Warwickshire Rural Hub. All rights reserved.