Environmental Stewardship



 Natural England have recently released updates on some of the potential changes to Environmental Stewardship (ES) under the CAP reform proposals, which provide a flavour of the intended changes.  However please note these are all draft proposals and subject to final agreement and implementation:

  • The final start date for ELS/HLS Agreements under existing ES schemes is the 1st December 2013.  ELS Applications will need to be with Natural England by 1st September 2013 (and HLS agreements earlier) to achieve this final start date.
  • New Environmental Land Management Schemes (NELMS) under the next regime of the CAP Reform will not commence until 1st January 2016; and all Agreement start dates will be the 1st January each year – there will be no monthly start dates.
  • Inevitably, there is a gap between December 2013 and 2016, known as the ‘transitional period’.  Currently, the following proposals are in place:
  • 2014, for Agreement Holders who have ELS Agreements which expire in 2014 (approximately 2,000) – to either extend their existing schemes in 2014, or begin a new Agreement using the current ES scheme rules – both of these options will be within the new budget, therefore the more money which is spent on transitional arrangements means there will be less available for NELMS in the future;
  • 2015, Currently 2015 is not defined as a transition year, therefore there are currently no proposals in place for the 12,000 ELS Agreements which are likely to expire.
  • The proposals for the NELMS in 2016 and beyond:-
  • ‘Lower tier’ – a national scheme open to all (similar to ELS) but with limited management options and capital items, with more emphasis on providing advice to landowners (similar to Catchment Sensitive Farming);
  • ‘Middle tier’ – targeting geographical/landscape priorities – agreements by invite only with simple management options and limited capital items;
  • ‘Upper tier’ – targeting designation areas to provide schemes for complex or demanding sites such as SSSIs – agreements by invite only with capital items available for special projects.
  • Depending on the outcome of the “greening” proposals under the CAP reform, and the availability of budget for Environmental Stewardship, it may be possible that only the middle and upper tier agreements are implemented, which will be targeted to deliver more significant benefits.
  • The Defra policies and objectives for formulating the NELMS and management options are based on EU directives such as water, biodiversity, landscape, climate control.
  • It is anticipated that there will be a single IT system for all CAP schemes, including the Single Payment Scheme (or equivalent) and NELMS, which shall include preparing and submitting applications, and submitting claim forms.

If you would like further advice on changes to Environmental Stewardship, or require assistance completing your ELS renewal in 2013 please contact Laura Gaydon of Sheldon Bosley on 01608 661666 or lgaydon@sheldonbosley.co.uk