European policy consultants
Rural development and renewable energy

Changes to make agri-environment schemes more effective in 2013

The Fourth edition ES handbooks have been published (see link below).

The handbooks set out five new options, and amendments to the existing prescriptions.

The five new options are:

1. EB14 Hedgerow restoration - small scale (10 points/metre length);

2. EE12 Supplement to add wildflowers to field corners and buffer strips on cultivated land
(63 points/ha);

This is intended to secure higher environmental gains on newly established buffer strips and field corners, rather those already established under existing agreements.

3. EF23 Supplementary feeding in winter for farmland birds (612 to 630 points/tonne, depending on scheme) ;

4. EK20 Ryegrass seed set as winter/spring food for birds (80 to 190 points/ha); and

5. EK21 Legume and herb-rich swards (200 to 250 points/ha).

The options will be available for new or renewed agreements which start on or after 1st January 2013.

To view the new handbooks, see www.naturalengland.org.uk

Natural England information note: www.naturalengland.org.uk

From 1st January 2013 NE will also be making some changes to ES option prescriptions and points values. These changes will apply to new ELS agreements, Organic ELS agreements and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements underpinned with ELS from that date.

The changes, which remain subject to formal EU Commission approval, are set out in the fourth edition handbook.

Other possible future changes which are being considered under the MESME project include:

■ Trials of a package of further potential changes to run through 2012/13, to provide evidence for design of the next Rural Development programme.

■ Ongoing improvements in ES delivery arrangements, to include aftercare support for HLS agreements, improving scheme flexibility and changing the way 'Indicators of Success' are monitored.

The Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme is open to all farmers who commit to carrying out a range of basic environmental management prescriptions on their land. ELS offers a range of options to suit almost all farm types. There is also an Uplands Entry Level scheme (UELS) with additional options, and a scheme for certified organic land (OELS).

Farmers in the ELS scheme receive a basic payment of £30/ha. For organic farms in the OELS, the payment is £60/ha , or £175/ha for improved land under conversion in the first two years.

Payment rates for UELS vary according to the size of individual fields and the area of land above the moorland line.

If you are considering taking up environmental stewardship on you farm, or renewing / amending an existing scheme, Eurinco can advise you and help you implement the changes.

Eurinco advises farmers, estate managers and their professional advisers on the prospects for future changes in the rural development regime, which may impact on existing agri-environmemt agreements.

If you are concerned about the possible impact of planned changes to the Common Agricultural Policy post 2013, please speak to Eurinco for advce on reducing business risk whilst delivering continued environmental benefits on your farm or estate.