Heritage, Conservation & the Environment

Leys Estate's Commitment

The Leys Estate Group’s vision acknowledges the need for progressive land ownership and embracing new ways of thinking and business management.  However, it also acknowledges the need to protect the social, cultural, historical, economic and environmental attributes of the land and surrounding area and to educate the future. This involves protecting and nurturing the valuable heritage assets the estate has and ensuring that they are maintained and safeguarded for future generations.

There are several ways in which the Leys Estate Group plans to deliver the key heritage principles of the vision.

Aberdeen University Students visit Leys Estate Biomass

Corporate Social Responsibility

Having a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy means that the Leys Estate Group wants to take account of our social, economic and environmental impact, and consideration of human rights whilst implementing our business plan and objectives.

This involves a range of activities such as working in partnership with local communities, supporting local projects, donating money, implementing environmentally-friendly policies and always operating with a sustainable approach or outlook. A key strand to the Leys Estate Group CSR Policy is an understanding that

“the youth of today are the future of tomorrow”

The very ethos of rural estates can be considered to be under threat from various quarters, but many times this is driven by a misconception of what rural estates can deliver to communities. By developing educational links with the younger generation, supporting new businesses and young entrepreneurs and also wider and more targeted information dissemination to the wider public, it will foster a better understanding of what rural estates and particularly the Leys Estate Group does and how it benefits the local economy and community.

The activities of the Leys Charitable Trust will also form a key part of delivering this part of the Forward Strategy.

The 1996 Estate Charter

In October 1996, Leys Estate published “A Management Charter for the Leys Estate”. The primary objective of the management charter was to produce a strategic framework for the sustainable development of Leys Estate into the 21st Century whilst retaining and enhancing its identity. This framework set out a Charter for future management practices to be undertaken in accordance with a series of guidelines, unless a strong justification for a departure from such a policy could be demonstrated. This resulted in a series of best practice guidelines covering the following areas:

  • Landscape Strategy
  • Access Strategy
  • Woodland Strategy
  • Conservation Strategy
  • Development Strategy

A key part of the Leys Estate Group five year Forward Strategy from 2018 to 2023 will be a thorough review of the various strategies contained within the 1996 Charter, how they have been implemented, how successful they have been and whether they should be adjusted, modified, modernised, re-stated and added to ie. a new Energy Strategy, a new Food, Drink and Tourism Strategy and a new Communications Strategy, none of which are in the 1996 Charter. This will ensure that the Group’s Values are current and relevant for a further period.

The Leys Estate Group plan to publish a new modernised Charter in 2023 which should be timed to coincide with the 700th anniversary of Leys Estate being within Burnett ownership since 1323.

This restated Charter will outline the core values of the Group which will characterise and define the shape of the Leys Estate Group and related businesses going forward.

Working Together on Leys Estate

Leys Charitable Trust

One the key ways the Leys Estate Group plans to protect the Heritage elements, benefit from the Natural Capital of Group assets and deliver the CSR Policy is through the activities of the Leys Charitable Trust (LCT).

Leys Charitable Trust was set up in 2006 and its stated charitable purpose is :

  1. The advancement of education
  2. The advancement of health (physical and mental)
  3. The advancement of citizenship or community development (including rural or urban regeneration and the promotion of civic responsibility, volunteering, the voluntary sector or the effectiveness or efficiency of charities).
  4. The advancement of the arts, heritage, culture or science.
  5. The provision of recreational facilities, or the organisation of recreational activities, with the object of improving the condition of life for the persons for whom the facilities or activities are primarily intended, and only in relation to recreational facilities or activities which are :
      • primarily intended for persons who have need of them by reason of their age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage, or
      • available to members of the public at large.
  6. The advancement of environmental protection or improvement.

There are two areas of Leys Estate that have been leased to the Trust to enable it’s objectives to be implemented. The Red Moss and the Loch of Leys Areas are two areas on the estate with very different physical attributes, but both have bespoke management frameworks that guide the activities that take place on these areas. These both need review and consideration should be given to leasing additional areas to LCT to achieve its aims.


  • Develop and advance education programme
  • Develop and advance access strategy
  • Review, monitor and improve path networks, both formal and informal
  • Develop community engagement strategy (“Friends of Leys Estate”)
  • Build and nurture a bank of local volunteers
  • Advance the environmental and sustainability credentials of the estate
  • Work in partnership with all community groups and the general public to educate and improve awareness of their surroundings and the activities that are carried out and why
  • Continue work with schools and young people
  • Ensure future generations understand the historic, social, economic and environmental values of Leys Estate
  • Monitor and improve bio-diversity on the estate
  • To protect, nurture and enhance the environmental credentials of the estate