At the Oxford Farming Conference, George Eustice announced more details about the Local Nature and Landscape Recovery ELM schemes.
Local Nature Recovery is the middle level of the ELM scheme and is described as: “the improved and more ambitious successor to the Countryside Stewardship scheme”. It will build on existing Stewardship options with additional elements such as species reintroduction, in-field trees and restoration of peatland and wetland. There is also a focus on collaboration between farmers. Defra states it will publish the full list of options later this year alongside more details about the scheme rules and proposed payment rates. In 2023, there will be an initial roll out for around 500 agreements with the full scheme available by the end of 2024. More information is here.
The highest level of the ELM scheme - Landscape Recovery - will support “more radical changes to land-use change and habitat restoration”. The first application round will open shortly and provide funding for up to 15 projects focusing on two themes – recovering threatened native species (including curlew) and restoring rivers and streams. Each of the pilot projects will cover areas from 500 to 5,000 hectares. Defra intends to launch a second round of pilot projects next year. The Landscape Recovery scheme will not have standard payment rates or options and projects cannot include activity that could be funded through an existing scheme. The highest scoring applications will be offered support to fund a development phase of up to 2 years. The implementation phase will then include long term agreements of 20 years plus. More information is here.
The Sustainable Farming Incentive is the third element of the new ELM scheme and the one meant to be accessible for most farmers. Details about what will be available in 2022 were announced in December – click here.
Defra is providing more information about what these ELM schemes might offer but there is still a lack of detail about options and payment rates. With the changes to Stewardship payment rates (see below), farmers may want to apply for Stewardship in this interim period whilst the ELM schemes are still being developed. With the Basic Payment Scheme reducing by at least 20% this year, it is important that farmers maximise what they can get from SFI 2022 and look for potential opportunities within the Landscape and Local Nature Recovery schemes.