Environmental Stewardship is a land management scheme that provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England to deliver effective environmental management on your land. There are currently 3 levels to the scheme:
- Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) – includes Uplands ELS (UELS): simple and effective land management agreements with priority options (now closed for new applications)
- Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) – includes Uplands OELS: organic and organic/conventional mixed farming agreements
- Higher Level Stewardship (HLS): more complex types of management and agreements tailored to local circumstances
From 2016, the new environmental land management scheme will be targeted so that farmers can help deliver environmental priorities specifically related to their local area, focussing particularly on increasing biodiversity, helping wildlife and improving water quality.
For example, if one area is home to rare farmland birds, farmers will be reimbursed for enhancing this habitat. If, in another area, agricultural pollution has affected local rivers, farmers will be able to apply for funding to reduce soil erosion and run-off from their fields.
The existing Environmental Stewardship and England Woodland Grant Scheme will be brought together into a universal scheme that will be open to applications from both farmers and foresters.
During EU negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK pressed for each country to have the option to channel a greater proportion of CAP funding into delivering environmental benefits. As a result, £3.1billion of funding will be available for environmental schemes in England which is a higher proportion of the CAP budget than ever before.
Defra has announced plans for England’s EU’s Young Farmers Scheme to give extra support to farmers under forty years of age and their intention to apply this support to the maximum land area of farms.