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Environmental Stewardship

Quick links
New Rural Development Programme 2007 and Cross Compliance

Environmental Stewardship outline booklet[Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader][1.6 MB]

Scheme handbooks and forms to download

Agri-environment Matters Newsletter

Advice to Farmers and Land Managers

Conservation Advice (ADAS)

Grass seed crops and grass margins[Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader][16 Kb]

Latest news

Update - Entry Level Stewardship (ELS)
Natural England will not be issuing any new ELS agreements for the next couple of weeks, while we await the outcome of formal EU procedures for approving the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. Land managers currently preparing ELS applications are therefore advised not to send them to NE until we are able to give further guidance.

We hope that we will get approval in December and we plan to make a further announcement to clarify the position then.
As a condition of EU approval, we will have to make some changes to Environmental Stewardship, which will have to apply to those provisional agreements issued from January 2007 and to any agreements issued from now on.

Once the current EU discussions have been concluded, and we know in detail what will have to change, Natural England will be contacting agreement holders to discuss whether, and how, they will be affected.

Environmental Stewardship agreements entered into before 1 January 2007 will not be affected by these discussions.
Anyone who has entered into an Environmental Stewardship agreement since 1 January 2007 will be eligible for payment for work they have undertaken so far under the provisional agreement.

Green farming schemes on secure footing

Green light for Environmental Stewardship

New Rural Development Programme 2007 and Cross Compliance - important news for applicants

Management of ELS grass margins to achieve isolation requirements for grass seed crops[Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader][16 Kb]

Natural England, launched on 2 October 2006, brings together the environment activities of the Rural Development Service, English Nature and the Countryside Agency's Landscape, Access and Recreation division. This new organisation will deliver the Government's programme of financial incentives (including Environmental Stewardship) to farmers and land managers for the protection and enhancement of the natural environment.

Links to HLS Land Management Options prescriptions and indicators of success have been added to the online version of the HLS handbook.


What is it?

Environmental Stewardship is a new agri-environment scheme which provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England who deliver effective environmental management on their land.

MeadowsThe scheme is intended to build on the recognised success of the Environmental Sensitive Areas scheme and the countryside Stewardship Scheme. Its primary objectives are to:

  • Conserve wildlife (biodiversity)
  • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
  • Protect the historic environment and natural resources
  • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
  • Natural resource protection

Within the primary objectives it also has the secondary objectives of:

  • Genetic conservation
  • Flood management

Environmental stewardship has three elements:

Entry Level Stewardship (ELS)
  • Open to all farmers and landowners.
  • Simple and effective land management.
Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS)
  • Organic strand of ELS.
  • Open to all farmers not receiving Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) aid.
Higher Level Stewardship (HLS)
  • Targeted environmental management.
  • Capital work plans.

Download the Environmental Stewardship promotional booklet[Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader][1.6MB]

What are the benefits?

ELS provides a straightforward approach to supporting the good stewardship of the countryside. OELS takes a similar approach, but is geared to organic and organic/conventional mixed farming systems. HLS is designed to build on ELS and OELS to form a comprehensive agreement that achieves a wide-range of environmental benefits across the whole farm. HLS concentrates on the more complex types of management where land managers need advice and support and where agreements will be tailored to local circumstances. ELS and OELS go beyond what will be required under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) cross compliance conditions. Entering into an Environmental Stewardship agreement will not remove any cross compliance obligations.

ES Review of Progress

A Defra led Review of Progress of Environmental Stewardship, ([Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader] 20 KB) run jointly with Natural England (NE), was launched in May 2007 to look at progress of the scheme.

Regional news

Follow the relevant link below to your region. There may be information on regional news and events, e.g. meetings, including dates, times, venues:

How do I apply?

Information on how to apply is available in the handbooks that support Environmental Stewardship. There are separate handbooks for each element of the scheme, and an additional handbook for the Farm Environment Plans required for Higher Level Stewardship.

Agreement start dates

The first Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements got underway from 1 August 2005.

Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS)

ELS and OELS operates on the basis of monthly start dates.

Our target will be to provide you with an agreement within three months of receipt of a valid application. Agreements will commence on the first day of each month so for example, we aim to issue an agreement by 1 October for a valid application received during July. We will give you the earliest start date we are able to unless you ask for a specific date later than the three month target.

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS)

We are not able to extend monthly agreement start dates to HLS as the requirements of this element of Environmental Stewardship are quite different and more complex.

The anticipated 2006 and 2007 agreement start dates for applications are scheduled to be as follows (the 2007 dates are subject to securing timely EU approval of the new Rural Development Programme from the beginning of 2007 ).

HLS application deadlineHLS agreement start date
30 June 20061 November 2006
30 September 20061 February 2007
31 December 20061 May 2007
31 March 20071 August 2007
30 June 20071 November 2007

Registering your land

Registering your land on the Rural Land Register for Environmental Stewardship (ES) applications.

As stated in the scheme handbooks only land that is recorded on the Rural Land Register can be entered into Environmental Stewardship.

New land registration requests and amendments to existing registered land should be referred to the Rural Payment Agency. Once the land is registered, an application for ES can be made.

If only small areas of your holding are unregistered you may wish to enter the bulk of your land now. Please contact your regional Natural England Customer Service Unit[Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader][46 KB] for details of other options that may be open to you.

Page last modified: 30 November, 2007
Page published: 3 March, 2005

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs