Natural England - Transition to the next Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020

Transition to the next Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020

The current Rural Development Programme (RDP) finished at the end of 2013, but the next RDP will not start until 2015.

The Transition Regulations have now been published in the Official Journal of the European Unionexternal link (Regulation (EU) No 1310/2013). Defra have confirmed that the Transition Regulations will be implemented in England as follows:

Land management schemes

  • Existing agreements (started in 2013 and before): Funding will be available for existing agreements which continue beyond 2013.

  • New HLS agreements in 2014: About £26 million will be available for HLS agreements for eligible expiring ‘Classic’ agreements, for SSSIs and other high priority cases, and to meet Water Framework Directive objectives.

  • New ELS agreements in 2014: About £4 million per year will be available for new/renewed ELS agreements, in the following circumstances:

    • for underpinning new HLS agreements,
    • in the uplands (Uplands ELS),
    • for land coming out of ‘Classic’ agreements in 2014 which does not meet HLS criteria, and
    • for organic producers (Organic ELS).

It should be noted that:

  • ELS renewals/new agreements are only available if one of the criteria above is met.

  • It will not be possible to extend the duration of any agreements which are due to expire in 2014.

  • The ELS Training and Information Programme (ETIP) has ended.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF)

Funding of up to £14 million will be available for CSF advice delivery and capital grants, to tackle diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA) and provide on-farm improvements which help meet Water Framework Directive objectives within Priority Catchments in England.

The figure of £14 million includes additional funding targeted at Natura 2000 sites which were included in the 2009 River Basin Management Plans and which need further action to reach their conservation objectives by 2015. We will also be prioritising those Bathing Waters which are failing for agricultural diffuse pollution. Operational plans to implement CSF delivery in 2014 are well underway.

Land transfers and amendments in 2014

This updated information note: (201kb)pdf document sets out how Natural England are processing land transfer amendments in 2014, including a frequently asked questions section.

Further information

Please see the Defra Transition Q&A (revised February 2014): (455kb)pdf document for more detailed information. Further information will be made available to agreement holders shortly.

NB: In the continuing absence of legal agreement at a European level, Defra cannot yet provide legal certainty to farmers about changes to agreements as a result of ‘greening’ or which might be required under the new Rural Development Programme.

England Woodland Grants Scheme 2014/15

The Forestry Commission issued an eAlertexternal link on 9 January 2014 regarding applications for woodland planting under the England Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) in 2014.

See the Forestry Commission website for more information on applying for an EWGS grantexternal link and their eAlerts pageexternal link for further updates.

Moving to uniform start dates in the next Rural Development Programme

Defra have confirmed that, from 2015 onwards, all new agri-environment agreements will have a single start date of 1 January in every year, rather than monthly start dates as at present.

In addition, the claim periods for all current ES agreements will be realigned to a January to December year. This means that, for example, an agreement starting on 1 May and ending 30 April would be realigned so that the claim period is synchronised to January to December, with annual payments being for work undertaken from January to December, rather than May to April. 

The Uniform Start Dates Q&A (updated March 2014): (78kb)pdf document provides more information on the reasons for this change and how it will affect customers. To check how the payment timings for your agreement will be affected, see the Payment Timing Tool: (421kb)excel spreadsheet.

Keeping you informed and answering your questions

We produce a regular newsletter "Scheme Development Bulletin: (105kb)pdf document” on the latest developments and update the Q&A briefings as and when further information becomes available.

More details are available on the land management developments page.

If you have any comments or questions which are not covered by the Q&A briefings, then please email: