Natural England - Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship is an agri-environment scheme that provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England to deliver effective environmental management on your land.

Entry Level Stewardship schemes closed to new applications

ELS, OELS or Uplands ELS schemes closed on 26 September 2014. Any applications received after this date will not be accepted.

The deadline for submitting an HLS application remains as agreed with your individual Natural England adviser.

How does Environmental Stewardship work?

There are four elements to Environmental Stewardship:

  • Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) provides a straightforward approach to supporting the good stewardship of the countryside. This is done through simple and effective land management that goes beyond the Single Payment Scheme requirement to maintain land in good agricultural and environmental condition.

  • Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is the organic strand of ELS. It is geared to organic and organic/conventional mixed farming systems and is open to all farmers not receiving Organic Farming Scheme aid.

  • Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (Uplands ELS) was launched in February 2010 to support hill farmers with payments for environmental management. This strand of Environmental Stewardship succeeds the Hill Farm Allowance. It is open to all farmers with land in Severely Disadvantaged Areas, regardless of the size of the holding.

  • Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) involves more complex types of management and agreements are tailored to local circumstances. HLS applications will be assessed against specific local targets and agreements will be offered where they meet these targets and represent good value for money.

Where can I find out more?

For more information about Environmental Stewardship read Look after your land with Environmental Stewardshipexternal link, call 0300 060 0011, contact your regional office or go to an event in your area for farmers and land managers.

Environmental Stewardship builds on the recognised success of the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Scheme and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.


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Online services for farmers

GOV.UK logo

GOV.UKexternal link now provides access to services such as RPA Online, ELS Online and Defra Farm Surveys and Assessments.

SPS Online

Each year over 100,000 farmers apply to the Rural Payments Agency for the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). SPS Onlineexternal link is the new electronic service that makes the application process quicker and easier.