Young farmer takes on five-year Yorkshire Water tenancy

A 23-year-old farmer has taken on a five-year farm business tenancy in Yorkshire as part of a Next Generation programme.

Robert McAneney grew up on his family’s smallholding and works on an arable and Christmas tree farm in Darlington.

The programme, part of Yorkshire Water’s Beyond Nature scheme, will allow him to take on a farm of his own for the first time.

See also: How to become a county council farm tenant

Mr McAneney plans to keep a flock of Oxford Downs and Cheviot Mules at 84ha Scow Hall Farm and will be supported in further business planning by Yorkshire Water and the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty’s Beyond Nature farming officer, Neil Pickard.

Scow Hall Farmstead

Scow Hall Farmstead © Yorkshire Water

The land includes permanent pasture and transitional upland fringe, and comes with a house and a range of buildings.

After the five-year agreement, the company – Yorkshire’s second-largest landowner – says it will support Mr McAneney to find a more permanent opportunity, and the farm will be rented to another young farmer, creating a cycle of mentorship.

Mr McAneney said: “I’m really excited to start this new chapter. When I got the call from Yorkshire Water, I was at work, out in the fields, ploughing. My life changed overnight and I immediately started planning what I want to do at Scow Hall Farm.

“To have this kind of opportunity at this age is amazing, and the team at Yorkshire Water have been really supportive. I’m most looking forward to being able to develop Scow Hall Farm into a more sustainable farm and increase my flock to substantial numbers.”

View of Swinsty Reservoir from Scow Hall Farm

View of Swinsty Reservoir from Scow Hall Farm © Yorkshire Water

Gaynor Craigie, manager of land and property at Yorkshire Water, said: “We had almost 50 farmers apply to be our first Next Generation tenant, but Robert was the candidate that really stood out, as he showed a great understanding of our vision for land and the Beyond Nature initiative.

“He has an entrepreneurial mindset, understands the challenges we face on our land and is keen to make a positive contribution to the future of land management. It is really exciting to see this programme come to life, and I look forward to working with Robert over the next five years.”

Beyond Nature forms part of Yorkshire Water’s Land Strategy and aims to strengthen the sustainability of its land.

It also supports farm tenants to develop thriving businesses. The company currently has nine farms signed up to the scheme, covering 5,000ha.