Advice from Hay & Kilner Law Firm has helped Northumberland Wildlife Trust use a £2 million donation from The Reece Foundation to purchase a 327-hectare area of land in an iconic Northumberland location.
The Trust has acquired the site at West Chevington near Druridge Bay from regeneration specialist Harworth Group plc for use as the location for one of the most ambitious lowland rewilding projects in the north of England, which will be an integral part of the charity’s fight against climate change.
The site, which is currently a mosaic of woodland, grassland and lower-quality arable land, sits atop a former opencast coalmine, and will showcase how nature can recover in this manufactured landscape to a large scale.
Hay & Kilner Law Firm has acted as an advisor to Northumberland Wildlife Trust for many years and involved specialists from its commercial property, commercial and rural teams with the West Chevington acquisition.
Nicola Tiffen, partner and head of the firm’s commercial property department, says: “The industrial and agricultural history of this site, its considerable size and the many regulatory and conveyancing issues that came with it made this one of the most heavily-titled transactions with which we’ve ever dealt.
“The area’s history meant that there were a range of restrictions that needed to be carefully considered, while tenancy arrangements and appropriate consents around issues that often went back decades needed to be carefully assessed and managed.
“Being able to keep the acquisition process moving forward despite its many complexities allowed the Trust to complete the purchase on schedule and will now enable it to begin to put its exciting plans for this landmark location into action.”
The West Chevington site will allow conservationists to test a number of rewilding methods with the aim of storing carbon, boosting biodiversity and connecting wildlife habitat on an unprecedented scale locally.
Among the enhancements being planned are the creation and restoration of wildflower meadows and grasslands, development of wetlands and watercourses, enhancement of ponds with reed beds, the encouragement of scrub and more broadleaf trees, and the re-introduction of species such as water voles and harvest mice.
Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, adds: “This is an amazing opportunity to restore a key area of Northumberland’s lowlands, potentially making the whole area much wilder, restoring nature at scale and delivering multiple benefits for nature, people and climate.
“Hay & Kilner has been a trusted advisor to us for many years and their expert advice has been key in making our acquisition of the West Chevington site run smoothly and to the timetable that we’d set for completion.”