The RSPB has struck one of the largest ever farmland rental deals in England and Wales.
The conservation charity has taken the tenancy of Ty-Llwyd Farm, 4,812ha of the Lake Vyrnwy Estate in Powys, Wales, from Severn Trent Water. The RSPB currently manages the farmland.
The 30-year farm business tenancy (FBT) agreement, negotiated by Knight Frank, is also one of the longest. The rent is a profit-based split between Severn Trent Water and the RSPB.
The RSPB says it has agreed to work with Natural Resources Wales to develop sustainable farming and grazing methods on the site.
Ty-Llwyd Farm is the largest organic farm in England and Wales and has 3,200 Welsh mountain sheep, 120 Welsh black cattle and hill ponies.
The farm will continue to be organic, farming hefted sheep flocks over the moorland along with the native Welsh Black cattle herd.
The tenancy will also give the RSPB the ability to pursue other conservation work, starting with its successful application to the Nature Fund in Wales and to build on the blanket bog restoration it has done under the European Life funding.
The estate is an important site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and the team will work alongside Natural Resources Wales, both with responsibility for the SSSI and as managers of the neighbouring Lake Vyrnwy Forestry Estate.
In total, the Lake Vyrnwy Estates estate extends to about 9,510ha. The area not covered by the new FBT consists of forestry, let agricultural farms and the Lake Vyrnwy reservoir itself, which provides the water supply to Liverpool via United Utilities.
Severn Trent will also continue to build on this and use its experience and that of the RSPB to share knowledge with other tenants on the estate.
Edward Dixon of Knight Frank said: “The deal recognises a continued interest in the Welsh upland farming sector, as a commercial farm operation incorporating conservation management to protect and enhance the SSSI.”
RSPB Cymru director Katie-jo Luxton said: “Vyrnwy and the surrounding area is home to characteristic and threatened birds such as curlew, golden plover, red grouse, black grouse, hen harrier, merlin, peregrine, red kite and short-eared owl.
“For more than 30 years, we have been working with the local community and organisations to manage this special place for wildlife and people, and we are absolutely delighted with this announcement.”