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Innovative Cambridgeshire farm receives seal of approval with Royal visit

20 July 2023

An innovative use of a Cambridgeshire farm to increase biodiversity with the support of local developers has been visited by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester.

His Royal Highness, welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant Julie Spence, also unveiled a plaque at the site marking the farm as part of the ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’, a tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.


The Duke took a tour of the ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ scheme at Lower Valley Farm, Fulbourn. It has been developed by Cambridgeshire County Council to diversify its farm estate use, mitigate the climate crisis and to encourage businesses to also become part of the solution.

The council has enhanced the landscape at the 140 hectare farm, creating species rich habitats, including woodlands, grasslands and hedgerows. Local developers can become involved by buying biodiversity units to offset the impacts their developments have on the environment. Improving nature as part of development work will become a legal requirement from November under new environmental laws. This investment can then be used to maintain and enhance the habitats at this farm. The scheme will take a number of years to mature while woodlands and grasslands become established.

The scheme, a first for the county, is part of the council’s commitment to tackle the depletion of nature in Cambridgeshire and the climate crisis, with the aim to be net zero as an organisation by 2030 and as a county by 2045, five years ahead of national targets. The Lower Valley Farm scheme will contribute toward this and also have other benefits, including:

  1. Community access to nature
  2. Improved air and water quality
  3. Help reduce flooding
  4. Drawing down carbon

Lower Valley Farm is home to the county’s recently established Covid Memorial Woodland, a living legacy to those who lost their lives during the pandemic. The area was recently officially named Memory Wood by local schoolchildren.

His Royal Highness also presented several Cambridgeshire County Council awards to tenant farmers on the farm estates, with Robbie Dean at Crowhall Farm, Burwell, David Woricker, South Angle Farm, Soham and Lucy Munns, Manor Farm, Coates, being recognised for their excellence.

The Duke and the Lord Lieutenant were also joined by Cambridgeshire County Councillor Sebastian Kindersley – Chair of the Council, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Lorna Dupre – Chair of the Environment and Green Investment Committee, District Councillor Peter Fane – Chair of South Cambridgeshire District Council and District Councillor Peter McDonald - Lead Cabinet Member for Economic Development.

Businesses can find out more information about the scheme by visiting Bidwells Biodiversity Net Gain Scheme - Lower Valley Farm | Bidwells

Cambridgeshire’s Lord Lieutenant Julie Spence said: “It’s wonderful that His Royal Highness visited the scheme to recognise it as an innovative approach. It was particularly poignant to see him unveil the plaque for the Queen’s Green Canopy. It’s a wonderful tribute to Her Majesty’s legacy. It will create a network of individual trees, avenues, copses and whole woodlands in honour of The Queen's service. Every tree planted will bring benefits for people, wildlife and climate, now and for the future.”

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Chair, Councillor Sebastian Kindersley added: “The County Council takes its responsibility about increasing biodiversity and reducing the impacts of the climate crisis very seriously. It is one of the council’s key ambitions and it is schemes like this that help Cambridgeshire move towards its goals to increase biodiversity and be net zero by 2045. The scheme shows how councils and businesses can work together in new, ambitious and innovative ways.”