Natural England - Farm Environment Plan

Farm Environment Plan

The Farm Environment Plan (FEP) is a structured survey of all environmental features on a farm.

A FEP is a pre-requisite for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). It identifies and assesses the condition of features of historical, wildlife, resource protection, access and landscape interest. It helps to determine the level of management that could be achieved through HLS and to consider the potential for creating environmental features and habitats, improving access, and managing land for flood management and natural resource protection.

Before undertaking a FEP, you must have a discussion with a Natural England adviser about the potential for your land to enter into HLS. Please refer to the 3-Tier HLS FAQ for information on the HLS application process. Your Natural England adviser must give you written permission to progress with an HLS application and undertake a FEP. This confirmation will contain a date period for which this permission is valid.

Who carries out and pays for the FEP?

This depends on which tier the HLS application is processed under:

  • If your application is to be processed under the Standard Tier or Complex Tier, then you will be responsible for commissioning and paying for the FEP. As a FEP is a detailed study, you may choose to employ a consultant to carry it out on your behalf. If the FEP is completed to Natural England’s quality standards, and is submitted with a valid HLS application, then a payment towards the cost will be made (see below).

  • If your application is to be processed as a Fast Track Tier application then Natural England will carry out the FEP. However you will have to meet the cost of the Historic Environment Record consultation (see below) - Natural England will not make any payment to you or the local authority unless your holding includes land designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

How does the FEP payment work?

The amount paid for a completed FEP depends on the total area of land registered on the Rural Land Register, as shown on the FER/FEP map.
The payments are:

Area (ha)<5.55.5-15.4915.5-49.4949.5-149.49149.5-200.49200.5-500.49
Total payment (£)395555715103511101430
Area (ha)500.5-1000.491000.5-1500.491500.5-2000.492000.5-2500.492500.5-3000>3000
Total payment (£)175020702390271030303350

This payment includes an amount to cover the fees charged for consulting the staff at Historic Environment Record (HER) offices; £75 for areas of 50 ha or less; and £150 for areas more than 50 ha.

You will be paid for the FEP after it, and the HLS application, have been assessed by Natural England. Payment does not depend on the application to join HLS being successful.

If you have not already been contacted by a Natural England adviser about submitting an HLS application, you must contact your local Natural England office before completing and submitting a FEP and HLS application.

The HLS application

Once you have permission to undertake a FEP you will be able to obtain an HLS application pack from a Natural England office. This pack will include:

  • A FEP map to be annotated with the farm’s FEP features.
  • A map or maps of your farm showing the environmental information that we already hold.

The other Natural England documentation you need to carry out a FEP is:

Please note: the Farm Overview and Opportunities Form has now been incorporated in a revised version of the FEP form.

It is essential that the surveyor is familiar with the guidance in the HLS Application Handbook and the FEP Features Manual before starting work on a FEP.

How to submit your FEP

Return paper forms to the Natural England office address on the application pack with the FER/FEP map and other documentation (HER consultation response and map). Mark these clearly with the applicant’s name and HLS application reference number.

Electronic forms (e-FEP) contain an automated process that lets you set up an email with the completed forms as attachments. For more details see e-FEP: Guidance for customers and FEP surveyors.

You will still need to send us copies of the completed FER/FEP map and other documentation (HER consultation response and map). Mark these clearly with the applicant’s name and HLS application reference number and send to your local Natural England office.

Relevant documents

The following publications and notes will help the FEP surveyor:

There is also a range of guidance for farmers and land managers.