Are you working towards Net Zero by 2040? Do you need a land classification survey to support a rural renewables project?

The Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) system grades land according to the extent to which its physical or chemical characteristics impose long-term limitations on agricultural use.

Land can be classified into one of five agricultural grades or certain nonagricultural grades.

Grading depends on climate, site and soil factors. Grade 1 denotes high-yielding land area with little/no limitations for agricultural use. Grade 5 is the lowest quality.

Planning authorities will take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land when making decisions on development applications. Development of grades 1, 2 and subgrade 3a is avoided to protect the most productive agricultural land.

Our expertise

We have a wealth of experience in land classification across England and Wales. In the 1980s as part of MAFF, we developed and tested the national ALC methodology and guidelines which are still in use by Natural England to this day. This expertise is retained within our company.

In 2020, we completed a major re-survey of Welsh farmland for Welsh Government’s Capability, Suitability and Climate Programme – the largest survey programme in decades.

Our clients include landowners, developers, councils and national governments. We have provided expert evidence for a wide range of rural developments, including large infrastructure projects such as rail, road, solar, wind and mixed renewables.

Our experienced consultants are independent and trusted. We offer standalone ALC reports or can input into Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Statements (ES).

For multiple sites, we can provide advanced desk studies or ‘reconnaissance’ fieldwork to identify lower quality land.

What is involved in agriculture land classification process?

A desk based survey and field survey are required to assess the site. Factors we take into account to help decide land class includes the climate (weather, exposure), the site itself (aspect, flood risk, gradient) and soil profile.  A report is then issued to the client listing the agricultural grades on site and the details of findings.

Contact us for advice

To discuss your requirements, please get in touch with ALC Consultant Martin Worsley