Natural England - Entry Level Stewardship

Entry Level Stewardship

With nearly 60% of England’s agricultural land now in Entry Level Stewardship, this is the basic underlying scheme for farmers and land managers in England. ELS agreements are for five years.

The scheme provides you with a straight forward approach to delivering simple and effective environmental management across your whole farm, that complements your existing farming operation, and allows you to create your own practical environmental management programme.

ELS closed for new 2013 applications on 1 September 2013. The ELS scheme will only be open for specific applications in 2014 (i.e. for expiring classic agreements and ELS agreements that underpin HLS). Please see the Transition page for more details.

Quick link to how to get registered and apply

All relevant handbooks

ELS priority options and areas

Changes from 1 January 2013
The Making Environmental Stewardship More Effective (MESME) webpage provides details on new ELS options which will be available from 1 January 2013. There will also be changes to some existing ELS option prescriptions and points values from 1 January 2013. The new options and changes have yet to receive formal EU Commission approval. 

Key information

You earn points for the range of environmental management options you agree to provide over the course of the agreement. There are over 65 management options to choose from, suitable for most farm types such as hedgerow management, providing wild bird cover and creating buffer strips.

In general you must achieve a total of 30 points per ha, and in return you will receive funding of £30 per hectare, per year, for your whole farm (a lower rate applies to larger parcels of land above the Moorland Line.

For example:
A 100 ha lowland holding would need 3,000 (30 x 100) points to qualify for ELS, and would receive an annual payment of £3,000.

You could achieve those 3,000 points through ELS in many ways. See table below.

Option descriptionPoints availableMeasurementYour points
Enhanced hedgerow management42 per 100m500m210
Permanent grassland with low inputs85 per ha8 ha680
Ditch management24 per 100m750m180
Management of field corners400 per ha1 ha400
Wild bird seed mixture450 per ha2 ha900
12m buffer strips for water courses on cultivated land400 per ha1.5 ha600
Skylark plots5 per plot18 plots90

For full details of options available see the ELS Handbook.