During intense spells of dry weather, farmers and growers with Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements can request derogations that allow minor temporary changes from the agreed management prescriptions for their ES options.
Derogations are also available for other reasons.
Derogations for drought typically relate to:
Grassland stewardship options – including requests to cut hay early for fodder, supplementary feeding or permission for swards to be grazed lower to alleviate animal welfare concerns.
Spring-sown wild bird and flower and nectar seed mixes – including issues with the establishment or re-establishment, e.g. where plots destined for spring-sown mixtures have been baked hard and a significant amount of fuel and labour would be needed prepare a suitable seed bed; combined with a high risk of plot failure if the dry weather continued. In such cases a derogation for an autumn sown mix may be the best solution.
ELS/OELS agreement holders must complete a Derogation Notice form: (95kb) to:
explain why the derogation is needed and the exact proposed course of action;
confirm that the situation was unforeseen and that other allowable solutions have been considered;
provide confirmation from an independent adviser (agent, agronomist or farm consultant) that the derogation will not compromise the objectives of the agreement and is the most appropriate response to the situation; and
for land ‘in conversion’ or fully organic, additionally provide authorisation from an Organic Inspection Body that the derogation complies with organic farming standards.
Agreement holders may proceed with the management changes as soon as they have returned a signed derogation notice form to Natural England, unless it is an SSSI or an archaeological site. In these latter cases agreement holders must not proceed without written consent from Natural England.
If an HLS agreement contains (O)ELS options that attract an HLS payment (i.e. ‘more of the same’ options) or (O)ELS options in the same field as an HLS option, then agreement holders must follow the HLS derogation procedure for any variation to their management.
For further information or assistance call Natural England on 0300 060 0011.
The terms of the derogation will be agreed between the adviser and the agreement holder. Agreement holders must NOT proceed without written consent from Natural England. To act without approval will be a breach of agreement.
Full details are set out in the HLS scheme handbook.
Process is as for HLS above.
Financial support is available to help farmers become better prepared for drought through the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) Capital Grants Scheme. Scheme funding can help towards projects such as the installation of rainwater harvesting and storage plants, and other practical measures to increase the efficiency of water use. This year’s CSF Capital Grants Scheme application window is from 1st March to 30th April 2012.
Derogations may also be requested for other reasons, e.g. to control serious weed infestations using herbicides or to allow metal detecting on known archaeological features.