The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has released information of the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, which, following testing and trialling as well as a national pilot scheme involving farmers and land managers, will commence in full in 2024. The Countryside Stewardship agreements will run ahead of this deadline.
Signing up to the Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement will put many farmers and landowners in the best possible position to join the ELM once the time is right. CS, however, will not suit every landowner or farmer. Each business should be reviewed individually to determine the most appropriate course of action. It will provide a viable source of income for the length of the agreement, for those it suits, in return for environmental benefits, at the same time as Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments start to reduce following Brexit. What is important to note, is that the CS agreements with a start date of January 2021 can be terminated, without penalty, at the end of the agreement year if the applicant wanted to transfer onto an ELM scheme.
Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship
The Mid Tier scheme provides a range of options and capital items that together help to deliver a broad range of environmental benefits and enhance the natural environment, in particular biodiversity – the diversity of wildlife, and water quality. The scheme offers grant payments and a combination of grants most applicable to your business can be applied for. These grants are available as management options for multi-year agreements of 5 years, with annual payments or for capital items with a range of 2-year agreements for specific capital works.
There are 2 different ways to access Mid Tier grants –
through Mid Tier applications and via Wildlife Offers. This second option is
non-competitive and often the quickest and easiest route to application. The
online pack must be requested by the end of June and the submissions completed
by the end of July, when the application period closes.
At the point of a successful application, if you accept the
agreement, this will become your Countryside Stewardship agreement and you will
be expected to meet all the requirements of your agreement.
Transfer to ELM Scheme
After agreeing to the terms of a Countryside Stewardship agreement, you are still eligible to apply to enter into the new ELM scheme once it is fully operational. If you decide that the move across to ELM is the right decision, after successfully securing a place in ELM, DEFRA will terminate your Countryside Stewardship agreement without penalty at the end of the agreement year, and therefore you will enter straight into ELM.
Support for Farmers & Landowners
If you are unsure as to the best course of action in terms of Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier applications and the ELM scheme, please contact one of our Rural Surveyors who will be able to advise you and support you through the application process. During this time of change as we exit the EU, our teams are constantly reviewing government processes and application guidance in order to give the best possible direction to our clients. With the announcement that land owners and farmers can apply for a Mid Tier CS agreement and transfer to an ELM scheme when ready, we urge land owners and farmers to act now to apply for the available grants under this scheme as opposed to waiting for the ELM scheme to be available to all.
Call one of our offices to arrange to speak to a Rural Surveyor: