20 July 2012
Natural England continue to make derogations available for Environmental Stewardship agreement holders.
With the impact of recent wet weather continuing to affect England’s farmland and farm businesses, Natural England is advising that derogations to Environmental Stewardship schemes can still be made available to help farmers and growers cope with the difficult conditions. Derogations mean that, in exceptional circumstances, some of the land management requirements that normally apply under Environmental Stewardship options can be temporarily lifted.
Derogations have to be considered on an individual basis – as the impacts of temporarily relaxing scheme conditions will be different from site to site – but Natural England has already been able to approve a number of applications in the last two months and is looking to provide help and advice wherever it can.
Under Environmental Stewardship scheme rules, a derogation is required where an agreement holder wishes to make a minor and temporary change to an ES option(s). In wet weather, we anticipate that requests for derogations might relate to:
• Spring-sown wild bird seed or nectar mixes – where poor weather has prevented successful establishment of these crops
• Field damage – where flooding has significantly damaged fields that are managed within an ES agreement
• Maize crops managed within option EJ2 or EJ10 – where the weather makes it impossible to harvest these maize crops by 1st October as planned
Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s Director for Land Management (South) said: “The current situation is having a major impact on England’s farmers and growers. Natural England is committed to ensuring that appropriate derogations, support and advice are being made available as quickly as possible to help farmers tackle the very wet conditions they are facing.
“If any farmers and land managers need information or advice about their Environmental Stewardship agreements and dealing with the impacts of the rain, then please get in touch with us through your local Natural England adviser or by calling us on 0300 060 0011.”
• Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) / Organic ELS agreements:
Agreement holders may proceed with the changes to their land management as soon as they have sent a Derogation Notice to Natural England. There are a few exceptions, for example where SSSI land and archaeological sites are involved, and in these cases written consent is needed from Natural England before proceeding.
Full details are set out in the ELS scheme handbook and the OELS scheme handbook. For further information or assistance call Natural England on 0300 060 0011.
• Higher Level Stewardship agreements
As each HLS agreement is tailored to individual circumstances, HLS agreement holders should contact their local Natural England adviser and a Derogation Request form must be completed. The terms of the derogation will then be agreed between a Natural England adviser and the agreement holder and the proposed changes to management can be carried out once written confirmation of the derogation request has been received from Natural England. Full details are set out in the HLS Handbook.
• Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS), Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) and Habitat Scheme
Arrangements are as for HLS – see above.
Catchment Sensitive Farming can provide target farms with free support and advice on methods to help farmers deal with soil erosion and excess water run-off problems by deploying catchment officers and soil husbandry experts where appropriate. Whilst acknowledging that floods and erosion cannot be halted by good soil husbandry, the implementation of locally targeted good practices has the potential to reduce erosion and run-off impacts considerably in some situations. To find out if you are eligible review the CSF Webpage at www.naturalengland.org.uk and contact your local catchment sensitive farming officer.
Financial support is available to help farmers to become better prepared for drought through the CSF Capital Grants Scheme. Scheme funding can help towards projects such as the installation of rainwater harvesting and storage plants on the farm and other practical measures to increase the efficiency of water use in the future. Other grant items such as sediment ponds, cross drains and swales with check dams help with management of sediment or dirty water run-off. This year’s CSF Capital Grants Scheme application period closed on 30th April 2012 but next year the application window re-opens on 1st March 2013.
For further information contact: Linzee Kottman on 0300 060 2058, 07824 334 819, email@example.com out of hours 07970 098 005.