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How agricultural land is controlled

​How agricultural land is controlled in Jersey

There are 2 laws that govern agricultural land in Jersey.  Both are administered by the Land Controls section of the Department of Environment Agricultural Land (Control of Sales and Leases) ( Jersey ) Law 1974, as amended.

The purpose of this law is to:

  • control the occupation and use of agricultural land
  • ensure that a stable, viable agricultural land bank is retained for the use of the farming industry

Protection of Agricultural Land (Jersey) Law 1964

The purpose of this law is to:

  • ensure land use of building site services is re-instated to agricultural use
  • ensure land is not contaminated through dumping or top soil removed rendering land unsuitable for further agricultural use
  • control domestication of agricultural land

Agricultural Land (Control of Sales and Leases) ( Jersey ) Law 1974, as amended - Jersey Law website
Protection of Agricultural Land (Jersey) Law 1964 - Jersey Law Website

Land definition and uses

What is agricultural land?

Agricultural land is land that is being used or is capable of being used for any purpose of agriculture or horticulture including glasshouses.

Can agricultural land be used for other purposes?

It is recognised that land is required for a whole range of uses besides agriculture and it is the job of the Land Control Section to assess the agricultural value of land where it is proposed that the land use is changed. The assessment will determine if the land needs to be protected for the sole use of bona fide agriculturalists or if the land can be used for other purposes, such as:

  • agri-tourism
  • tree planting or environmental schemes
  • private horse grazing
  • creation of orchards
  • creation of park land
  • smallholdings

Other types of uses

Whilst most requests fall into one of the categories listed above, in some cases requests are received for agricultural land to be used to extend garden areas or for development.

Although the general policy is to preserve agricultural land for the use of bona fide agriculturalists, each case is viewed on its merits and in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to release parcels of land which are too small or awkward in shape to be cultivated, or which, due to their nature, are of no real use for commercial agriculture. 

In any event it is necessary to apply for a change of use under planning legislation and only if planning permission is granted will the agricultural conditions be removed, although the two legislations are applied independently of each other.

What is a bona fide agriculturist?

A bona fide agriculturist is some one who is wholly engaged in work of an agricultural nature by way of:

  • working for their own profit
  • having experience to farm land
  • spending the majority of their time farming land
  • receiving the majority of their income from agriculture / horticulture
  • having the necessary machinery to work the land
  • earning a gross margin of over £40,000 per annum

How is the assessment carried out?

When land is assessed for agricultural purposes a number of factors are taken into consideration, these typically include:

  • size
  • topography
  • access
  • drainage
  • depth of soil
  • presence of stone

Changes of use

There are two types of change of agricultural land use

  • temporary change
  • permanent change of use

Temporary change of use

Temporary changes of use can be granted by the Land Controls Section under a licensing scheme.  The scheme allows for areas of land over 2 vergées in size to be used for non agricultural purposes such as horse grazing provided that the land owner can prove that there is no interest from the agricultural industry. This is usually done by way of an advert in the Jersey Evening Paper for a period of no less than 3 days.

If a temporary change of use is granted it is done so via a licence which will stipulate when the land must be returned to agricultural use.

Permanent change of use

The Land Controls Section can permanently release agricultural land from controls up to 1 vergée in size without reference to Minister for the Environment.

A permanent change of use can also be sought via a change of use application to the Planning and Building Section.

A change of use to domestic curtilage requires an application to the Planning and Building Section to be approved before the Land Controls Section will consider its permanent change.

Land transaction form

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