Plans to improve sustainability and biodiversity on the College Estate reviewed

We have been considering our long-term goals for increasing the sustainability of our land portfolio, and we are committed to continuing with our programme to utilise land holdings to improve sustainability and biodiversity.

Hall Farm, Begbroke, Oxfordshire, is a key pilot scheme of this sustainability strategy. The work being undertaken is evolving the farm’s activities away from agriculture, - due to the greater impact this has on the environment through the use of pesticides and fertilisers – by developing stewardship programmes which will reduce the use of chemicals, enhance the carbon profile of the soil, and cultivate diverse ecosystems.

In particular, there are plans to plant extensive wildflower meadows along with nectar and pollen rich species to support insects across the farm. This will enhance long term sustainability, biodiversity, and the abundance of wildlife. It will also support soil improvement, reduce the risk of soil erosion, and help limit local flooding risk. The remainder of the arable land will be planted to legume crops and grass to improve soil organic matter and carbon sequestration.

Following further early-stage discussions, we have decided to continue with our existing approach to sustainability and biodiversity for our land at Begbroke, rather than including some of our land for consideration in the Botley West Solar Farm Project.

At this stage in our sustainability programme, we would like to give our existing strategy further opportunity to evolve, before making any long-term commitments for the land. We can then take the time to judge the current strategy’s success and explore any opportunities to evolve this at a later stage.

The case for renewable energy is very strong and does align with our broader sustainability objectives, given the importance of solar power both as a tool to deliver Net Zero, and also as a contributor to UK energy security. Renewable energy will remain an option as part of our sustainability strategy over the longer term.

We were not the applicant, nor the developer behind the Botley West project, and our land holdings equated to around only 5% of the total site area. We will continue to engage closely with all our partners to deliver long-term sustainability and biodiversity at Hall Farm, in line with our vision.