Faccombe Estates

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Faccombe Estates's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Faccombe Estates is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Estate Director Al Brooks
Harvesting at sundown
Situated in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty, Faccombe Estates owns 4,250 acres, which
is split between mixed farming, a shooting operation –
which is ranked in the top five per cent in the country – and the
local village. Drawing income from these varied streams, the
estate is committed to sustainability; alongside having the only
wind turbine in the local area, they are aiming to reduce further
their reliance on fossil fuels. Estate Director Al Brooks tells
Parliamentary Review
The term “future-proofing” encapsulates our attitude and direction. As a rural
estate, high up in North Hampshire, we have seen the highs and lows of farming
and rural life for a very long time. Through all of this, there has always been the
drive for a sound, profitable, financial base to the organisation.
We have many challenges facing us as a rural business, not least the recent
decision to exit the EU. There are pressures relating to financial margins, legislative
compliance, welfare standards, environmental delivery and climate change. As well
as this, there are more localised challenges, such as an aging workforce and the
continuing need for innovation and the creation of profitable income.
It is abundantly clear that we need to be prepared to change and alter our
approach on a very regular basis. Change management has become a significant
part of what we now do, which is in stark contrast to 20 or 30 years ago.
»Estate Director: Al Brooks
»Founded in 1978 by the
»Based in Faccombe,
»Services: Mixed farming,
commercial shooting, forestry,
renewables, public house and
let property
»No. of employees: 13
Faccombe Estates
Highlighting best practice
Financial and environmental
We hear the words “sustainability”,
“natural capital” and “renewables”
on a very regular basis. For us, the
reality is that these words have been
synonymous with our business for a
very long time. One thing that has
always paid dividends is the fact that
all our enterprises must complement
each other. This means that
communication on all levels is vital.
Regular staff updates, coupled with an
open management style, are essential
for team spirit.
Within the village sits the Jack Russell
Pub, which was reopened in November
2017 after being shut for four years.
The refurbishment programme
included a radical redesign in both the
interior and exterior. When planning
this project, thought was given to the
surroundings, natural and structural
assets, and other enterprises.
Consequently, a luxury eight-bedroom
lodge was built adjacent to the pub,
which was designed, among other
things, to provide accommodation for
the shooting clientele. This improved
the offering to the guests and now
provides a “start to finish” experience
that people will remember and
hopefully repeat. Additionally, it has
produced local employment
The farming operation extends to
just shy of 3,000 acres and covers a
traditional mix of combinable cropping,
including wheat, barley, oats, oilseed
rape, linseed and rotational grass.
We also contract farm a further
1,000 acres, which has helped
toward the creation of extra income,
profitability and cost spreading. The
desire is to produce high-yielding,
high-quality crops in a cost-effective
manner, making the most of our
natural surroundings and using
research, development and up-to-date
technology to drive efficiencies. We
are passionate about our environment,
which means that, payments or not, it
will be looked after.
There is an area of downland that,
along with the rotational grass,
supports 1,300 ewe lambs destined for
the breeding market. Markets for the
crops are as specialist and as niche as
the soil type and topography willallow.
Utilising our resources
Our commercial shooting utilises
less attractive and awkward areas
of arable land and makes use of the
woodland as much as possible. The
shoot is recognised as being in the top
five per cent in the country; as such,
we are always looking to improve
what we offer. In consideration of
this, and being ever mindful of the
delicate political situation surrounding
shooting, we host a number of
simulated game days, which are
helpful income in the closed season.
Further to this, we are very proud of
the fact that every bird that is shot on
the estate is utilised within the food
chain somewhere, be it through the
pub or through the Country Food
Trust, to whom we donate over 5,000
birds a year.
Shepherding in the early
The term
our attitude
and direction
Careful monitoring of cashflow and
budgets is paramount. This is carried
out with a flexible approach, designed
to take advantage of any out-of-
budget opportunities that may occur.
One of the most constant enterprises
within the business is the housing
stock that is rented out. This
enterprise, while still requiring a level
of investment, provides a constant,
profitable source of income. To
maintain occupancy rates, the houses
are regularly maintained.
The topography of Faccombe boasts
some of the biggest blocks of
woodland in the area. While forestry
management is nothing new, and
traditionally not particularly profitable
unless done at scale, the decision was
taken two years ago to diversify away
from low-value timber and log sales
and into wood pellet manufacturing.
This utilises low-value timber by
turning it into wood pellets for the
domestic and commercial biomass
heating market, along with a bedding
product for the equine market.
This has simplified the timber
harvesting operation, with the focus
now being on the higher-value timber
for the construction industry. This
diversification has been designed to
serve two purposes: firstly, to provide
fuel for the two biomass boilers that
have recently been installed, and,
secondly, to provide a commercial
income to bridge the gap that will
be left by the imminent departure of
agricultural subsidies.
Planning for the future
We want to carry on creating something
that can be handed on to the next
generation, is sustainable and financially
sound, and will provide enjoyment.
We had the first privately owned wind
turbine and must try to continue on
that path to a sustainable future. We
have our own water, produce our own
heat and are aiming to reduce further
our reliance on fossilfuels.
Allied to this is our desire to farm in
an environmentally friendly manner,
all the while ensuring continued good
financial performance. We aim to
use our finite resource in such a way
that it continues to be the backbone
of the business, thus allowing other
enterprises to flourish.
If we are going to do something, it must
be done well or not at all. By creating a
sense of pride and ownership in all the
people who live on the estate, we can
take the local community with us in
what we do. Looking ahead, we aim to
stay at the forefront of good practice
and governance in whatever we do.
We hear the
capital” and
on a very
regular basis.
For us, the
reality is that
these words
have been
with our
business for a
long time
The Jack Russell pub


This article was sponsored by Faccombe Estates. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster