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Agri-environment Schemes

Agri-environment Schemes have existed in various guises since the late 1980s to provide financial support for farmers and landowners to manage their land in ways to deliver environmental benefits.

The Environmental Stewardship Scheme, launched in March 2005, is the most recent generation of Agri-environment Scheme and comprises three individual schemes. These are:-

Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) - a non-discretionary scheme designed to deliver simple yet effective environmental management. Under the scheme, points are awarded to specific environmental management prescriptions and applicants must achieve an average score of 30 points per hectare to participate. ELS agreements last for five years and attract an annual payment of £30 per hectare.

Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) - is similar to the ELS but is specifically tailored for organic land. The points target is set higher at 60 points per hectare, however organic status automatically attracts 30 points per hectare. The annual payment is also increased to £60 per hectare.

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) - is a discretionary scheme and aims to offer enhanced environment protection in high priority areas. Entry into ELS/OELS is a prerequisite of the scheme. Additional payments are given for enhanced environmental management options and capital works which are agreed prior to entering the scheme. Agreements last for ten years, however a five year break clause can be exercised.

A fourth scheme; Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (UELS) was announced in 2008 as a replacement for Hill Farm Allowance (HFA). UELS is specific to upland (SDA) areas and is an additional and supplementary tier to ELS, with participation in the latter scheme being a pre-requisite (much like OELS).

Should you wish to participate in any of the above schemes, Woolley & Wallis' Farm & Rural Department will be able to assist you with selection of an appropriate scheme and completion of the application.

A large area of land is still managed under closed Agri-environment Schemes including the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) and Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) agreements. We are able to advise on any management issues which might arise with these existing agreements and assist farmers and landowners with their transition to the Environmental Stewardship Scheme once existing agreements expire.