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Royal London's £260m Investment: Acquiring 21,000 Acres of Prime Farmland for Natural Capital Initiative

In collaboration with the South Yorkshire Pension Authority, Royal London Asset Management has acquired 21,000 acres of farmland spanning Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire in a groundbreaking £260 million joint venture unveiled yesterday. This strategic move aims to implement cutting-edge sustainable agriculture technologies, regenerative farming practices, and nature-based climate solutions within the region.

The acquisition, including the renowned Waldersey Farms and its partnerships with leading UK agricultural entities, signals Royal London AM's inaugural foray into agriculture and natural capital investments. Managing assets exceeding £163 billion globally, the firm is committed to reducing emissions across its investment portfolio by 50% by 2030 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Characterized by its exceptional versatility and biodiversity, the farmland presents ample opportunities to enhance agricultural productivity while embracing innovative environmental approaches. These include the utilization of green technologies, sustainable farming methods, and nature-centric initiatives. The envisioned projects encompass a broad spectrum of nature-based climate solutions, ranging from soil enrichment and lowland peatland restoration to hedgerow expansion, habitat enhancement, water quality improvement, and renewable energy deployment.

Ultimately, the goal is to bolster natural capital across Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, concurrently fostering food production to address escalating food security demands.

Mark Evans, head of property at Royal London Asset Management, described the acquisition as "the largest farming transaction by capital value in the UK," which he said provided "an exceptional opportunity to launch our natural capital strategy."

"It will allow us to explore market-leading sustainable practices on a predominantly directly controlled estate and at a meaningful scale whilst aligning with our long-term focus as a mutual business," he said. "The balance between human and environmental health derived from agriculture will become increasingly relevant, and the opportunity to be active investors in this partnership enables us to have more influence over the operations and better engagement with communities while testing alternative routes to add value."

Sheffield City Councillor Jayne Dunn, chair of the South Yorkshire Pension Authority, said the pension fund manager had "curated the estate and Waldersey Farms from 400 acres over the last 40 years, establishing itself as one of the UK's largest food producers".

"As farming moves into a new era of increased complexity, meeting the combined demands of food security, localism, biodiversity enhancement, climate change, and more, we felt that the opportunity to introduce a new partner able to more actively manage the estate and fully realise its potential was in both the best interests of the holding and the longer-term interest of our scheme members," she explained.


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