ELM Meeting Update

Our Environment Consultant George Atkin attended the ELM Meeting and has some updates from DEFRA on where they are going as the scheme develops.

DEFRA want to regularly review and ratchet up ambition to deliver targets in the environment act “more ambition over time”. The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will be placed as a gateway to Countryside Stewardship (CS), although in a lot of cases, SFI and CS tailored together will maximise environmental and financial return.  Landscape Recovery (LR) remains the most flexible, ambitious and least prescriptive.

DEFRA indicated that regulation would target those causing environmental harm, creating a “credible risk of being caught,” rather than penalising small discrepancies in option area.

Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI)

Six new standards (up from three promised) with 19 actions, going live in Summer.

  • Hedgerow
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Nutrient Management
  • Arable/horticulture land
  • Improved grass
  • Low input grass

I find the IPM standard the most exciting, with in field pollinator strips, payment for not using insecticides and payment for an IPM plan.

DEFRA reports that hierarchical levels not workings as well as hoped, standards currently laid out this way to stay as they are for now. New ones will have a pic and mix of options.

Work is still being done on the Agroforestry standard.

Countryside Stewardship (CS)

Will evolve to deliver Local Nature Recovery (LNR) intent, expanding and refining over time. 30 additional options by the end of 2024.

The ‘+’ of the ‘CS+’ stands for local join-up (an additional payment). The ‘CS’ part continues largely as CS has in the past, simply expanded. CS options could be income foregone + costs + collaboration. This is something we will be keeping a close eye on.

  • Higher tier applications to open in February
  • Middle tier applications to open in March
  • Three years to complete capital works
  • Can have separate CS alongside existing ELS/HLS

With regards to CS/SFI stacking DEFRA are working towards mutual exclusivity to remove the possibility of double funding and improve the compatibility of the two.

Landscape Recovery (LR)

The next round of applications for LR is opening in spring 2023, with the focus on:

  • Net Zero (peat/woods)
  • Protected sites
  • Habitat creation

If you are interested in further information about how ELMs affects you then please contact Wilson Wraight