Natural England
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Advice on derogations for Environmental Stewardship agreements

To help farmers and growers cope with the intense spell of dry weather, Natural England is ensuring that appropriate Environmental Stewardship derogations are made available to farmers who are in agri-environment schemes (AES) and has issued advice on how they can apply for them.

Higher Level Stewardship agreements

As each HLS agreement is tailored to individual circumstances, HLS agreement holders should contact their local Natural England advisor if they need assistance with an HLS derogation relating to farming activity, such as carrying out early hay cutting or a need to provide supplementary feeding for livestock due to poor grass growth.

Entry Level Stewardship/Organic ELS agreements

Natural England will look favourably on requests for derogations to agreements where grassland management has been affected by the dry weather or there is a need to carry out supplementary feeding of livestock.  ELS/OELS agreement holders should liaise with their agent, agronomist or farm consultant and use the standard proforma: (95kb) to request derogations.  Further guidance can be found in the ELS scheme handbook or the OELS scheme handbook.

Any ELS/OELS agreement holders who need further information or assistance can call Natural England on 0300 060 0011.

Ian Fugler, Natural England’s Director for Land Management said: “As we all know, the current situation is having a major impact on farmers in some parts of the country and we want to ensure that the appropriate environmental stewardship derogations are available to help farmers deal with the consequences of this period of dry weather.  If any farmers and growers need further information or advice about their Environmental Stewardship agreements and the impacts of the dry weather then please get in touch with us through your local Natural England adviser or by calling us on 0300 060 0011.”

Notes to editors

For further information (media enquiries only), please contact: David Hirst, Natural England press office on 0300 0601720 or 0782 7821679. Out of hours 07970 098005

For further information about Natural England please visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk

Additional notes:

1. Derogations for ELS/OELS agreements need to be countersigned by a recognised independent adviser such as an NFU representative, land agent, or a conservation officer.

2. For ELS/OELS agreement holders, information about requesting derogation can be found in their Handbooks as follows:

  • For ELS agreements please refer to page 22 of Third Edition ELS Handbook (issued Feb 2010), page 87 of Second Edition ELS Handbook (issued Oct 2008), or page 97 of First Edition ELS Handbook (issued Feb 2005). 

  • For OELS agreements please refer to page 24 of Third Edition ELS Handbook (issued Feb 2010), page 102 of Second Edition ELS Handbook (issued Oct 2008), or page 141 of First Edition ELS Handbook (issued Feb 2005). 

3. The ELS/OELS Handbooks are available online listed on the Useful Documents web-pages of Natural England’s website ELS / OELS

About Natural England

Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  • We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.

  • We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Marine Conservation Zones, and advising widely on their conservation.

  • We run England’s Environmental Stewardship green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.

  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.

  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.