Driving a new energy revolution
November 3, 2022
Having once assessed the potential of North Sea oil wells as a young geologist, Jamie Brown is now helping propel an altogether different energy drive. As partner and commercial property team leader at The Endeavour Partnership, he is linking farmers with power providers to help create huge solar panel developments. Here, Jamie tells Steven Hugill more about that work, how it fits into the firm’s wider commercial property provision, and why services will always be delivered with a uniquely personal touch.
“Quite often, I’ll be having a conversation with a farmer while they’re delivering a calf, lambing or fixing machinery.
“They’re so busy, they don’t have time to sit down for a chat, so I go to them.”
Jamie Brown isn’t your average law firm partner and commercial property team leader.
A former North Sea geologist – whose CV also includes time in the Gulf of Mexico – you’re just as likely to see him over a farmer’s shoulder, braving the wintry chill of a barn in wellingtons and overalls, as you are in a crisp suit behind a desk in a warm office.
But then, The Endeavour Partnership – where Jamie has been a fixture for nearly two decades – isn’t your average legal sector operator, either.
Based in offices overlooking Stockton’s waterfront as Tees Valley’s largest commercial law firm, it elevates services far beyond static advice through a dedicated personal approach that meets clients’ needs while providing them with autonomy to make decisions based on their unique circumstances.
And nowhere is this commitment better emphasised than through the work of its expert commercial property team.
Led by Jamie, it provides advice across the entire commercial property development spectrum, from large-scale acquisitions and sales and purchases for expanding portfolios, to mergers, leases, asset transfers and drafting guarantees.
Its reputation is reflected by a client list that winds from its North East heartland, from local operators, such as family-founded transport firm AV Dawson and the Middlesbrough Development Corporation, to national and international organisations.
The firm is also a leading figure on a legal panel established to support the Tees Valley’s development plans, which include Teesside International Airport’s £200 million Southside Business Park.
Its influence, though, goes further still, into the agricultural sector, where Jamie and his team provide crucial support to everything from small, family-run farms to large, landed estates.
And its impact is becoming ever more palpable as the UK undergoes a green revolution.
With the country increasingly shifting from a reliance on dwindling reserves or imported fossil fuels to renewable means, farmers and power companies are uniting, creating solar panel developments to pump energy into the national grid.
And right in the middle of it all is The Endeavour Partnership, its highly practised team ensuring landowners secure lease deals that invariably include a percentage of the value of the power produced, while allowing for the continuation of animal grazing.
The firm has already acted for clients on a number of projects, notably a 250-acre scheme just outside Stockton, which developers say has the potential to become one of the North East’s largest onshore solar farm developments.
Jamie says: “When people think of The Endeavour Partnership, they will perhaps look at the headline commercial property deals we support, and may not instantly think of Tees Valley’s largest commercial law firm working on things like agricultural solar farms.
“But we have great experience of working with the farming community, having supported its journey for a long time.”
And in Jamie, that community has someone who is deeply invested in its future, who is receptive to the challenges it faces and the priorities it must attend and who, ultimately, embodies The Endeavour Partnership’s personal approach.
“I really enjoy the farming side of law,” says Jamie, who often helps deliver his neighbour’s lambs.
He says: “Getting out to see farmers and understanding their daily routines, their business plans and their aspirations, right down to the nitty gritty, is hugely important.
“It allows me to tailor support and ensure they’re getting the best possible advice.
“And that is crucial, because farming is a tough sector.
“Farmers feel business pressures like everyone else, and with them comes the need to diversify.
“Some have converted barns into holiday cottages, but others are using their land for solar panels, tapping into what is a valuable income stream.
“And it’s a symbiotic relationship; the energy provider gains access to land for its panels while the farmer gets an income and, if they have them, continues grazing sheep in their fields.
“Founding these solar developments is a very long process, and we get involved right at the beginning, working closely with clients to ensure their interests are safeguarded.”
Jamie adds: “And our reputation continues to grow on the back of it.
“A number of land agents, who negotiate on behalf of farmers, regularly come to us, and we often get referrals from smaller firms of solicitors, which have acted for farmers for years.
“They recognise our expertise in this area, having been through the process so many times.”
For Jamie, the energy change he is now supporting can be traced back through the decades to his time as a geologist in the North Sea, where he explored and exploited new and existing oil reserves.
Having witnessed that industry close-up, he is using his experience and knowledge of its finite resource pool to drive forward the switch to cleaner power.
He says: “Working in the North Sea showed me just how unproductive and expensive it was becoming.
“After five years I could see things were looking precarious – that was more than 20 years ago, and it’s all now coming down the line in terms of renewables,” says Jamie, who began studying law while still working in the North Sea, before fulfilling a training contract with a London firm.
He adds: “It is reflected in the fact the big operators, who were in the North Sea, are setting up their own renewable energy subsidiaries.
“They know where the future is.
“Solar power is natural, it’s environmentally-friendly and it’s far more cost efficient that trying to open up old oil wells.”
And as the energy mix continues to change, Jamie says The Endeavour Partnership will remain where it has always been – right by the side of clients, providing a personal approach that understands their intricacies to ensure future success.
He adds: “We’re committed to supporting the continued energy transition, and how that feeds into the agricultural sector, just as we are supporting the entire commercial property environment.
“The services we provide, and the sectors we support, show we’re anything but another commercial law firm.
“We are Tees Valley’s largest commercial law firm, and we’re immensely proud of that.
“Our roots are here, our people are from the area, and we’ll continue offering our support to ensure it thrives.”