Soil Surveys, Environmental Assessment & Land Management

Training in Agricultural Land Classification

For the third consecutive year LRA is contributing to a training course in Agricultural Land Classification (ALC).  The classification system, designed to protect the highest quality farmland from irreversible loss to development, has been in use since the 1970s but was updated by a more quantitative classification in 1988.  It classifies land into five grades numbered 1 to 5, with grade 3 divided into two sub-grades (3a and 3b). Grades 1, 2 and subgrade 3a are identified as representing the best and most versatile agricultural land which national planning policy encourages local decision makers to take into consideration when determining planning applications.

The two day course forms part of the British Society of Soil Science’s Working with Soil (WwS) initiative and is delivered by two specialist staff from Natural England (the statutory consultee on soil and ALC issues in England), one from Welsh Government (the statutory consultee for Wales) and LRA’s director Malcolm Reeve, who provides the consultant’s perspective on ALC.  This year’s course is to be held in Birmingham on the 29th and 30th November.  By the end of the two days participants will learn:

  • about how the ALC system has developed over time, its underlying principles and its role within the planning system - the What, Why and When of ALC
  • all the details of how land is graded - the How of ALC
  • how to present ALC results as an expert witness

As well as taught sessions, delegates will carry out a group ALC grading desk exercise to further enhance their ability and confidence.

Participants will receive a detailed, comprehensive course book and digital versions of the ALC Guidelines and Meteorological Office ALC climatic data.


Further details about the course are available from course qualifies for CPD points for professional practice schemes.