Environmental Land Management – latest

Agriculture & Rural Business, Advisory

The original consultation document on Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMS) was issued in February, but withdrawn in the wake of the Covid-19 upheaval. It was reissued on 26th June with a cut off point for comments of 31st July.

The strategic objectives of ELM are to secure a range of positive environmental benefits, and tackling some of the environmental challenges associated with agriculture. In designing a scheme, DEFRA are looking to learn from some of the mistakes in the Stewardship schemes, replacing them with something which will give:

  • High levels of uptake
  • Clear objectives for participants
  • Effective advisory services
  • Recognition of positive outcomes and good practice
  • Locally prioritised
  • Not over prescriptive and sensibly enforced
  • A simple and reliable income stream

It seems likely that ELMS will be delivered via a three tier mechanism balancing wide take up with targeted environmental benefits on individual, local and regional areas. The smaller schemes are likely to attract payments focussed on activities carried, out, the medium schemes might be more focused on measured outputs and the largest will possibly be priced by individual negoitiation. Examples are given of the actions and scope of each tier as follows (the lists are not exhaustive):-

  • Tier 1

Actions could include nutrient, pest, soil and livestock management, buffer strips, cover crops and efficient water use. Agreements would be made at a single farm level. This tier looks a lot like the existing Stewardship schemes or the old entry level scheme.

  • Tier 2

This would cover activities such as tree, shrub and hedge planting and maintenance, habitat creation/restoration, natural flood management, rights of way, education heritage asset management. Agreements are likely to favour collaborative action on a local basis in some cases. This resembles something between the Stewardship schemes and the old HLSS schemes.

  • Tier 3

Tier 3 looks to provide benefits above and on a different scale from tiers 1 and 2. It will encourage collaboration at a “landscape” level favouring strategic locations and objectives. It might include woodland or wetland creation and peatland restoration and seems likely to be on a scale greater than that provided by single farms or smaller estates

It is intended that ELMS will be tested between 2021 and 2024 and will roll out fully from 2024. Existing Stewardship agreements can be terminated early in order to join an ELM scheme when available. Basic Payments (BPS) are being phased out between 2021 and 2027 so ELMS will not be available until BPS is well into the period of reduction.

The consultation document gives no clear guidance on the possible quantum of ELMS payments, other than an acknowledgement that the “income foregone” model may not give the targeted level of take up.

The full details of the scheme and questions for response ( by 31st July) are available here 

Find out more

For further guidance regarding your agricultural business contact Head of Agriculture & Rural Business, Sarah Dodds at sarah.dodds@mhllp.co.uk

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Focus on - Environmental Land Management

Agriculture & Rural Business, Advisory