Environmental Stewardship Review of Progress

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Environmental Stewardship
Review of Progress
Defra – Natural England 2008
Contents
1 Executive Summary
2 Introduction
5
12
2.1 Background
12
12
2.1.1 Scheme Background
2.2 Context
16
2.2.1 Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE)
16
2.2.2 Set-aside
16
2.2.3 Commodity Prices
17
2.2.4 CAP Health Check
19
3 The Review Process
21
3.1 Scope
21
3.2 Structures and Governance
21
3.3 The Review Process
21
3.4 Stakeholder Engagement
22
4 Scheme Policy – Issues, Evidence and Recommendation
24
4.1 Evidence
24
4.2 Issue 1. Role of ES
25
4.3 Issue 2. Relationship of ES with other policy instruments
26
4.4 Issue 3. Climate Change
32
4.5 Issue 4. Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) Replacement – Uplands ELS
33
4.6 Issue 5. Energy Crops
34
5 Scheme Effectiveness, Design and Process – Issues and Evidence
35
5.1 Issue 1. Improving the effectiveness of ES options
35
5.2 Issue 2. Sectoral variations in level of ELS agreement uptake
35
5.3 Issue 3. Fit of ELS options in relation to local environmental priorities
36
5.4 Issue 4. Balance of options within ELS agreements
36
5.5 Issue 5. Gap between ELS and HLS issues coverage
38
5.6 Issue 6. Getting the best environmental outcomes and value for money
from HLS
38
5.7 Issue 7. Climate Change Adaptation
38
5.8 Issue 8. Closed agri-environment scheme transfer rates
39
5.9 Potential Solutions
39
1
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
6 Scheme Effectiveness – Evaluating Solutions and
Recommendations
6.1 Changes to ELS options to improve effectiveness
43
6.1.1 Grassland Workstream
43
6.1.2 Arable Workstream
44
6.1.3 Field Boundary, Orchards and Woodland Options Workstream
44
6.1.4 Farmland birds Sub-group
44
6.1.5 Resource Protection Workstream
47
6.1.6 Combined Options
47
6.2 Changes to HLS options to improve effectiveness
49
6.2.1 Grassland Workstream
50
6.2.2 Arable Workstream
50
6.2.3 Field Boundary, Orchards and Woodland Workstream
50
6.2.4 Resource Protection Workstream
51
6.2.5 Access Workstream
52
6.2.6 Capping HLS payment rates
52
6.3 Climate Change and ES Options
7Scheme Design and Process – Evaluating Solutions and
Recommendations
2
43
53
55
7.1 ELS – Advice and Training
55
7.1.1 Targeted promotion/awareness raising
55
7.1.2 Influencing option choice
57
7.1.3 Management best practice
58
7.1.4 Delivery mechanisms
58
7.1.5 Delivering future advice needs
59
7.1.6 Provision of an Enhanced Programme of Advice
61
7.2 ELS – Scheme Structural Change
62
7.2.1 Split Lists
62
7.2.2 Adjusting Option Points Allocations
67
7.2.3 Geographic Approaches
68
7.3 ELS – Enhanced Scheme
69
7.3.1 Inclusion of Capital Items within ELS
69
7.3.2 Raised Points Threshold
73
Contents
7.4 Administrative Efficiency and Scheme Processes
75
7.4.1 Scheme payment rate review
75
7.4.2 ES Transaction Processing
75
7.4.3 HLS Agreement Care and Maintenance
76
7.4.4 Changes to the HLS Farm Environment Plan (FEP)
76
7.5
81
HLS – Map-Based Targeting
8 Scheme Research and Monitoring
83
8.1 Overview
83
8.2 ES Research and Monitoring
83
9 Summary of Recommendations
86
9.1 Overview of Recommendations
86
9.2 Changes to Scheme Policy
87
9.3 Changes to Improve Scheme Effectiveness
87
9.3.1 Revisions to Existing ELS Options and Prescriptions
87
9.3.2 New ELS Options
88
9.3.3 Revisions to Existing HLS Options and Prescriptions
89
9.3.4 New HLS Options
89
9.4 Changes to Improve Scheme Design and Processes
89
9.4.1 Changes addressing: Sectoral variations in level of ELS Agreement
Uptake
89
9.4.2Changes addressing: Fit of ELS options in relation to local
environmental priorities
90
9.4.3 Changes addressing: Balance of options within ELS agreements
90
9.4.4 Changes addressing: Gap between ELS and HLS coverage
91
9.4.5Changes addressing: Getting the best environmental outcomes and
value for money from HLS
91
9.4.6 Changes addressing: Closed agri-environment scheme transfer rates
91
9.5 Research and monitoring
92
3
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
10Implementation Overview
11Appendices
97
100
11.1 CSL Executive Summary
100
11.2 Summary of Stakeholder Attendance at Workshops
138
11.3 Summary of recommendations on changes to ES options
139
11.4Summary of Stakeholder Comments on Scheme Design and Process Issues –
Stakeholder workshop 7th January 2008
155
11.5 Cost Estimates for ELS Advice Delivery
157
11.6 Analysis of ELS Option Uptake against JCA targets
159
Note – For simplicity, in this report ‘ELS’ is taken to include ‘OELS’ where appropriate.
4
1
Executive summary
1. Environmental Stewardship (ES) is a key Defra policy mechanism for meeting biodiversity
targets and delivering a range of other public goods, including natural resource protection
(particularly water and soil), preservation of landscape and historic features, access to the
countryside and the development of organic farming.
2. It lies at the heart of the new 2007-13 Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE),
approved by the European Commission in December 2007, and accounts for £2.9 billion of the
£3.9 billion spending planned in this period.
3. ES was first introduced in 2005 under the previous EU Rural Development Regulation,
which expired in December 2006. Because of this limited experience, and in order to ensure
continuity of operation, ES was re-submitted for the present programme period essentially
without amendment. But it was decided to hold a progress review, concurrent with the
Commission’s approval procedure for the new programme, in order to:
• provide assurance in relation to delivery to date (on the basis of an independent evaluation
of performance)
• explore ways of securing better value for money, from the funding available
• take account of new policy priorities since the original launch in 2005, in particular climate
change.
4. The review was conducted jointly by Defra and Natural England (the body responsible for
scheme delivery) under a Defra-led project board. Stakeholders were included in membership
of the 11 workstreams and through a series of workshops examining emerging findings and
key strategic issues.
5. The main evidence base for the review was an evaluation of the first 18 months operation
of ES carried out by the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) – a summary of which is annexed
to this report. This included surveys of both participants and non-participants, an analysis of
uptake, an examination of ways in which improvements might be made and modelling of likely
environmental outcomes.
6. In general, ES was found to be working well, though it was still too early to judge how
far the scheme would meet its objectives over time.
7. The review workstreams drew on this material to identify issues for further consideration,
both in relation to changes to existing options and to wider structural changes, including
responding to new challenges and policy requirements.
8. A number of developments also took place during the review, with actual or potential
impacts on issues under discussion. These included market and other factors affecting farm
production, a more demanding regulatory context, particularly in respect of so-called baseline
requirements, and the European Commission’s decision to set a 0% rate for set-aside in
2007/08 ahead of its CAP Health Check proposals.
9. It was not possible for all of these developments to be addressed within the timescale of
the review. But, where appropriate, recommendations are made for further work.
5
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
10. The general conclusion of the review confirms the CSL analysis that ES is making good
progress and that the combination of a “broad and shallow” Entry Level strand (ELS) open to
all, with a more demanding and selective Higher Level strand (HLS), is achieving the scale of
coverage and degree of targeting required to deliver across the range of ES objectives, many
of which are complementary. The voluntary nature of ES also means that balances have to be
struck between the degree of prescription involved and keeping options sufficiently attractive
to ensure good levels of uptake.
11. The recommendations made include a number of changes to individual management
options across all elements of ES. While some of these will introduce greater flexibility into the
options and others will make the options more demanding, most changes will be neutral in
effect, simply improving the option. About 20 new options are recommended for development
and introduction, while 2 options are recommended for removal. There is also a commitment
to examine ways of building on the benefits of the management plan options, which have
recently been removed, in a way that adds value to the scheme.
12. A number of recommendations relate to possible ways of improving the focus and
appropriateness of choices made by farmers, particularly with regard to geographical priorities.
This includes recommendations for the enhanced provision of advice to applicants, including
ELS, and for the investigation of structural adjustments which would group or align options
with specific geographic or sectoral outcomes – referred to in the report as “geographic
literacy”. There is also a recommendation to examine the possible inclusion of capital items in
ELS.
13. The review also looked at administrative aspects of ES, both in terms of the efficiency
of scheme delivery and burden on applicants. This has resulted in recommendations for the
simplification of some options, particularly the Farm Environment Plan (FEP), as well as changes
in procedures.
14. One of the key strategic issues addressed was the need to take account of the inclusion
of climate change as a priority for the new RDPE programme period. Climate change is also
included as a “new challenge” in the Commission’s November 2007 Communication on the
CAP Health Check, along with water management and biodiversity. Although not an explicit
objective of ES to date, there is evidence that many existing options contribute to the reduction
of greenhouse gas emissions and that agri-environment schemes can play a major role in
adaptation through protecting habitats and helping to prevent the fragmentation of areas of
high environmental value. In addition to recommending further work and research to develop
new options, the review proposes to make climate change an overarching theme of ES as a
whole. This should serve to reinforce the multi-objective nature of the scheme, raise awareness
among farmers and land managers and help inform future decisions.
15. Another key issue is the relationship between ES and the regulatory baseline, either within
the CAP itself (in the form of cross compliance) or in respect of issues like resource protection
(the Water Framework and Nitrates Directives). The Commission has made it clear that ES
cannot be used to fund meeting new legislative requirements or to incentivise or otherwise
compensate agreement holders for complying with existing obligations. Account will also have
to be taken of any changes in cross compliance as a result of the CAP Health Check, on which
proposals are expected in May 2008.
6
Chapter 1: Executive summary
16. The CAP Health Check proposals are also likely to include the abolition of set-aside as a
production control measure, while recognising the need to preserve the environmental benefits
accrued from the present scheme. The review recommends a number of ways of helping to
achieve this, either through new options or amendments to existing options. These include
revised prescriptions for wildlife seed mixtures, skylark plots and over-wintered stubbles and
new 12 metre grass margins. But the voluntary nature of ES and the fact that such changes
can only apply to new agreements means that they will not be a sufficient response to the
complete removal of a set-aside requirement for all farmers.
17. Following publication of the review report, the aim is to incorporate as many changes as
early as possible to maximise the impact on new agreements following RDPE approval and to
have the more substantive changes in place for the first wave of ELS renewals from 2010.
18. Natural England will set up an implementation project to take this forward, with the issue
of revised scheme literature as a very early deliverable. The first phase of changes will also be
submitted to the Commission under the notification procedure, which does not require formal
approval before implementation. Changes requiring further work and explicit approval under
the programme modification procedures will be submitted at a later stage.
Key Recommendations
Climate Change
Recommendation: Climate change should be an overarching theme of ES. This
should be expressed by adding the following text after the list of objectives:
“Through meeting these objectives, Environmental Stewardship will:
• support the adaptation of the natural environment to climate change;
• enhance the contribution of agriculture and land management to climate change
mitigation, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing
and protecting carbon storage.”
7
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Recommendations:
Working with Defra, NE should:
• Make better use of ES as a tool to raise awareness and understanding of climate
change in the agricultural sector.
• Make appropriate changes to ES to further reduce the contribution of
agriculture to climate change (Following an assessment being carried out by
expert contractors of current ES options and potential climate change mitigation
measures).
• Contribute to the development of any strategic changes to ES to ensure that
the climate change mitigation impact is maximised and to ensure that incentives
provided for land management through ES actively contribute to the delivery of
climate change adaptation strategies.
• Contribute to the development of any new measure designed to build on the
environmental benefits offered by the management plan options, so that the
measure makes a contribution to climate change issues.
Energy Crops
Recommendation: further work is done to examine whether ELS options can be
developed or adapted to maximise the environmental contribution of energy crop
cultivation.
Improving ELS Scheme Effectiveness
Overall Recommendation: Over 100 detailed changes to ELS options (revised options,
prescriptions and new options), outlined in Appendix 11.3 should be implemented
by Natural England with input from EA, FC and EH where necessary. These are:
• changes to existing options and prescriptions to improve the scheme and resolve
minor issues – the majority fall into this category (about 40);
• changes to make existing options and prescriptions more demanding (about 27);
• changes to make existing options and prescriptions more flexible (about 20);
and
• develop and introduce a number of new options (about 14).
8
Chapter 1: Executive summary
Improving HLS Scheme Effectiveness
Overall Recommendation: The about 80 detailed changes to HLS options outlined
in Appendix 11.3 should be implemented by NE with input from EA, FC and EH
where necessary. These are:
• changes to existing options and prescriptions to improve the scheme and resolve
minor issues – the majority fall into this category;
• a small number of changes to make existing options and prescriptions more
demanding;
• about 30 changes to make existing options and prescriptions more flexible
(including 20 relating to the FEP); and
• a number of new options.
Combined Options
Recommendation: Natural England should develop and implement a small number
of new combined options which based on existing evidence have the potential
for widespread environmental benefit (i.e. they are not highly species/location
specific).
Recommendation: Existing evidence on environmentally beneficial management
combinations should be reviewed and further research commissioned as necessary.
Advice
Recommendation: Develop a significantly enhanced, geographically differentiated,
programme of advice to support ELS delivery and secure the funding necessary to
implement.
Split Lists with a Geographic Component
Recommendation: Develop and test a simple single-split list approach (including
national, geographic and sectoral alternatives) based on a minimum specified
proportion of agreement points coming from 1 or more options on the list.
Recommendation: The existing geographical targeting guidance for ELS, including
the JCA based targeting statements, should be reviewed to explore ways that it can
be made more effective. This review should be linked to the ongoing development
work on map-based targeting for ES.
9
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Adjusting Option Points Allocations
Recommendation: Points rebalancing should be reconsidered alongside the scheme
payment rate review; timed to maximise the impact on ELS renewals which will begin
in 2010. Particular attention should be given for the scope to differentiate points
allocations for new combined options relative to their standalone components.
Geographic Approaches
Recommendation: NE should complete further evaluation of the potential
effectiveness of geographically explicit approaches to delivering better geographical
literacy within ELS, and develop them subject to their effectiveness. As part of
this evaluation NE will also evaluate the extent to which Income Foregone varies
geographically/by sector to inform future scheme development.
Inclusion of Capital Items in ELS
Recommendation: Develop and test an ELS capital works proposal (within the
existing points threshold).
Raised Points Threshold
Recommendation: Develop and test an enhanced ELS proposal, including scope for
geographical targeting, (based on a higher points threshold).
Recommendation: Undertake further research to inform the optimum balance of
agri-environment scheme intensity (£ha/yr) and coverage (ha in scheme) to achieve
different objectives.
Scheme Payment Rate Review
Recommendation: A scheme payment review should be carried out particularly
in order to ensure that rates are appropriate for potential scheme renewals from
2010, as well as providing value for money from the changes recommended in this
report.
FEP
Recommendations: NE should introduce a simplified FEP. (Key changes detailed at
Annex 11.3).
10
Chapter 1: Executive summary
Recommendation: NE should explore ways of securing further improvements to
the FEP process, building on the experience of the simplified FEP. This may include
other means of achieving the same objective.
HLS – Map-based Targeting
Recommendation: Natural England should continue to develop, refine and
implement a map-based approach to targeting HLS agreements. A key feature of
this approach will be that most of the resource will be concentrated in a series of
multi-objective, priority target areas, with key features outside these areas being
targeted individually.
ES Research and Monitoring
Recommendation: Re-examine the current ES Evaluation Plan and planned research
expenditure to ensure that projects are planned which will allow the effectiveness
of changes introduced following this review to be assessed and to generate
the evidence to support future changes. Specific issues identified in the review
include:
• Undertake further research to inform the optimum balance of agri-environment
scheme intensity (£/ha/yr) and coverage (ha in scheme) to achieve different
objectives.
• Develop further understanding of landscape scale requirements.
• Continue to develop the evidence base regarding the effectiveness of agrienvironment spending.
• Undertake further review to evaluate alternative policy and technical solutions
to securing environmental benefits in the long-term.
• Carry out further research, as necessary into climate change issues, to allow the
development of the impact of ES on climate change.
• Review existing evidence on environmentally beneficial management
combinations and commission further research as necessary.
N.B. A breakdown of the changes outlined in the ‘Improving ELS and HLS Scheme Effectiveness’
recommendations above can be found in chapter 6 (key recommendations by workstream) and
in greater detail in appendices 11.3 and 11.7.
11
2
Introduction
2.1 Background
19. Environmental Stewardship (ES) is a key tool for delivering Defra policies by:
• contributing to meeting the new ‘healthy natural environment’ Public Service Agreement
(PSA) 28 target for the period 2008/9 to 2010/11 and the existing Site of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI) target;
• helping to deliver a range of other public goods in terms of landscape, biodiversity, natural
resource protection (including water), access, the historic environment etc, including through
an expansion of organic farming;
• articulating Government policy on CAP reform by utilising resources transferred from Pillar
1 to Pillar 2, and thereby targeting support at public benefits; and
• distributing about 80% of the expenditure under the Rural Development Programme for
England (RDPE).
2.1.1 Scheme Background.
20. ES was launched in March 2005 following the 2002-2004 Agri-Environment Review and
the recommendation of the Curry Commission1 that a ‘broad and shallow’ agri-environment
scheme should be developed to complement the previous narrowly focused approach of
Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA). ES comprises three
elements:
• Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) – open to all farmers and land managers who want to deliver
a basic level of environmental management above that of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
cross-compliance.
• Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) – open to all farmers registered with an organic
inspection body, but who are not receiving aid under any of the organic aid schemes.
• Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) – open to those farmers who want to deliver higher levels
of environmental management.
21. ELS was designed to reward existing good practice as well as to fund improvements
in environmental land management. However, ES does not make payments to farmers for
practices which are required of them for compliance with regulations. ES is delivered on the
ground by Natural England (NE).
22. The objectives of ES are:
• Wildlife conservation
• Maintenance and enhancement of landscape quality and character
• Protection of the historic environment
• Promotion of public access and an understanding of the countryside (HLS only)
• resource protection;
1 12
Policy Commission on the Future of Food and Farming (2002) ‘Farming and Food: a sustainable future’.
Chapter 2: Introduction
with secondary objectives for HLS only of:
• flood protection; and
• conservation of genetic resources;
where they contribute to the primary objectives.
23. As of 4 February 2008 uptake of ES was 4,700,000 ha (over 51% of agricultural land),
broken down as follows:
• ELS – 4,394,466 ha
• HLS – 178,425 ha
• OELS – 268,898 ha
• OHLS – 43,122 ha
(Please note that overlap means that these figures will add up to more than 4.7m ha).
24. Because of the length of agreements, nearly 1 million hectares of land is still covered by
agri-environment schemes in operation prior to the launch of ES, such as CS and ESAs.
25. As the figures above demonstrate, the area covered by agreements is already high. ELS/
OELS agreements last 5 years and HLS agreements last 10 years. As ELS agreements remain
unchanged for 5 years, and with the number of farmers left who are likely to join the scheme
relatively low, substantial uptake of new or amended options is unlikely until the first agreement
renewals in 2010.
26. Prior to the launch of ES, targets were set for the uptake of each of the elements. The
targets were to achieve by end 2007:
• 60% of agricultural land under ELS
• 525,000 ha under HLS and CS
• 340,000 ha under organic cultivation OELS
27. In November 2007, Defra agreed with NE that the ELS target would not be actively
pursued due to Defra budgetary constraints in the current financial year and the need to await
completion of the ES Review of Progress. Discussions are underway between Defra and NE to
agree a target for future years as part of NE’s corporate planning process.
28. The current coverage of CS is about 450,000 ha meaning that the HLS and CS target has
been met.
29. In considering the progress review’s recommendations, effort has been made to achieve
the right balance between making options better value for money (in delivering environmental
outcomes) and ensuring the scheme remains attractive enough to achieve the high coverage
necessary to ensure a national environmental impact.
13
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
30. There were compelling reasons for carrying out a progress review in 2007 – the earliest
point at which sufficient evidence was available (in the form of the Initial Evaluation of ES
carried out by Central Science Laboratory (CSL)) – rather than waiting for the Mid-Term
Evaluation required under the RDPE in 2010: The budget for agri-environment schemes had
doubled with the new scheme and this was the first time that farmers could join a scheme (ELS)
without the need for detailed adviser input. With the large amount of public money involved
(this is Defra’s biggest single programme/budget) it was important to ensure that:
• ES is delivering the stated objectives;
• it delivers good value for money;
• it takes account of emerging new policy priorities, in particular in relation to climate change
and natural resource protection, and other key Defra policies such as cross compliance.
31. Various commitments have been made publicly about the progress review, as set out
below:
32. Under the RDPE consultation, published in February 2006, Defra is committed to:
‘Build on the first phase of Environmental Stewardship and review progress in 2007/08
to coincide with the review of CAP cross-compliance and to include work to identify
potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions; and Increase mitigation of greenhouse
gas emissions [through the RDPE] in line with the emerging UK Climate Change
Programme.’
33. This commitment was re-iterated in the Agriculture chapter of the Climate Change
Programme Review published in May 2006:
‘Exploring how Environmental Stewardship can make a greater contribution to achieving
the Government’s climate change objectives.
34. The aim of the review was therefore to develop ES so that it delivers Government
environmental priorities, through agricultural land management, in the most cost-effective
way. The review has resulted in recommended changes to ES to achieve this both in the short
and longer terms. The implementation of these recommendations will be carried out outside
the project and some will feed into the Mid-term Review.
14
Chapter 2: Introduction
Evidence Base
Environmental Stewardship (ES) was launched in March 2005; with Entry Level
Stewardship (ELS) implementing the Curry Commission recommendation for a
“broad and shallow” scheme open to all farmers. The first ELS agreements started
in August 2005, followed by the first Higher Level (HLS) agreements from February
2006.
Although there was extensive consultation beforehand – including the 2002–2004
Agri-Environment Review and piloting of ELS in four areas – it is still very early to
reach judgements on how well ES, and ELS in particular, will meet its objectives
over time, particularly given the range of variables involved and the need for
certain changes in behaviour to become embedded before results are apparent.
Nevertheless, in order to check the general direction of travel, to assess emerging
trends and provide information on full scale operation, Defra commissioned an
independent evaluation (by the Central Science Laboratory (CSL)) as the basis for
the current progress review.
The full CSL report is available at: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=
Menu&Module=More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=13825#Descripti
on and an Executive Summary is attached to this report at appendix 11.1
In brief, CSL concluded that ES was working well. But it was found that the six
most popular options (of the 60 available) accounted for around 50% of all points
scored, with the top 20 covering 90%, suggesting that some re-balancing might be
called for. There was also evidence of a gap between ELS and HLS strands which
might mean that opportunities for improvement were being missed.
Most farmers found ELS relatively easy to understand, though there were
perceptions (not supported by evidence) that some sectors (e.g. upland and beef
farmers) faced barriers to entry compared to others.
CSL also carried out supplementary modelling work on likely scheme outcomes.
This identified a possible area of concern over the contribution to the natural
resource protection objective (see also www2.defra.gov.uk/research/Project_data/
More.asp?I=MA01041&M=CFO&V=CSL).
The review has also drawn on numerous other sources of evidence and expertise in
relation to specific issues such as farmland birds and climate change. These include
scientific research and monitoring studies and are referenced as appropriate in the
Report.
15
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
2.2 Context
2.2.1 Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
35. ES forms part of the RDPE, which is funded under the EU Rural Development Regulation
(1698/2005). Over the 7 years of the Programme (2007-13), about £2.9 billion (almost 80% of
the total RDPE budget) is expected to be spent under agri-environment schemes (the majority
on ES, with a proportion needed to fund the remaining years of contracts made under previous
agri-environment schemes).
36. The RDPE was agreed by the EU on 6 December 2007. As a condition of securing this
agreement, amendments had to be made to ES:
• Withdrawal of the four management plan options
• Inclusion of scheme requirements related to the proposed revisions to the Nitrates Action
Programme
• Insertion of a review clause in agreements.
37. The withdrawal of the management plan options overtook emerging evidence2 that they
did not offer good value for money; it is therefore likely that those options would have been
withdrawn in their present form anyway. Because these EU changes were only confirmed in
December – late in the review process – changes proposed to ES to address them are not
yet fully developed. However, there are recommendations in this report which, when further
developed, will mean that the environmental benefits offered by the management plan options
are built upon in a way which offers value above the baseline and which enhances the positive
impact of ES on resource protection.
2.2.2 Set-aside
38. Set-aside was originally introduced as a market control mechanism to reduce food
surpluses. There is, however, evidence that set-aside can bring about benefits for biodiversity
and habitats in intensively farmed landscapes. Among the environmental benefits associated
with uncultivated land in general, including set-aside, are several related to wildlife, particularly
farmland birds, and reductions in diffuse pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
39. Bearing in mind that the CAP Health Check in 2007-08 was widely predicted to propose
abolition of set-aside, the review was specifically asked to consider how the loss of recognised
environmental benefit might be mitigated by ES measures. This work involved considering the
extent to which new or amended ELS options might help deliver some of the environmental
benefits previously delivered by set-aside land.
40. However, in advance of the Health Check proposals, the European Commission
announced in July its intention to introduce a 0% set-aside rate for the 2007/08 cropping year.
In response, the Secretary of State announced that a programme of environmental monitoring
would be initiated and, if there were significant adverse environmental impacts as a result of
0% set-aside, an early announcement about action to be taken would be made.
2 16
Evaluation of Management Plans in ES (2007), ADAS, report for Defra (pending publication).
Chapter 2: Introduction
41. In making the announcement, it was recognised that changes to ES were unlikely to be
available in time for decisions on mitigating measures for the 2008/9 cropping year. This was
because, even if some changes could be introduced into ES in 2008, it was unlikely that these
could be taken up by farmers to any significant uptake until 2010 at the earliest – when the
first ELS agreements would be due for renewal.
42. Nonetheless, work has progressed to identify options which might contribute some
mitigation over the short term, in conjunction with an examination of options which might
contribute more to the longer term CAP Health Check work.
43. In parallel with the ES work, within the context of the set-aside monitoring, we have
sought to identify how much ES could reasonably be expected to deliver in respect of the
major beneficiaries of set-aside land – farmland birds and resource protection. This work is now
continuing outside and beyond the Review of Progress.
44. In making recommendations about changes to ES, the review has assumed that there
will be no further set-aside, either through continued setting of the rate at 0% or, in the
longer term, complete abolition. In the absence of specific evidence to determine the area and
extent of environmental benefits which might be lost, the review has concentrated on those
options which could provide winter food for birds and nesting and foraging sites over the
spring/summer; and on increasing the resource protection impact of the scheme. The detailed
recommendations are shown in Appendix 11.3.
2.2.3 Commodity Prices
45. The price of most agricultural produce has risen recently. The most significant rise has
been in the price of cereals. The chart below shows selected US and UK cereal prices since
2000.
World Cereal Prices
390
340
240
190
140
90
US SRW Wheat
US YELLOW CORN
UK Milling Wheat
UK Feed Barley
Jul 07/8
Jan
Jul 06/7
Jan
Jul 05/6
Jan
Jul 04/5
Jan
Jul 03/4
Jan
Jul 02/3
Jan
Jul 01/2
Jan
40
Jul 00/1
US$/Tonne
290
UK Feed Wheat
(Source: HGCA)
17
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
46. It could be argued that this rise, and the resultant rise in farm incomes, means that land
owners can afford to take land out of production and carry out activities which benefit the
environment. However, the impact of such high prices on the attractiveness of agri-environment
scheme payments must be considered.
47. Under EU rules, the payment rates for all the options under agri-environment schemes
have to be based on the income that is foregone in carrying out that action. This is calculated
as an average cost, based on forecast price assumptions for the period that it applies, including
the value of any production losses that will be incurred in carrying out the requirements of the
option. Therefore the payment rate for all options is based upon the income foregone, rather
than the benefits the action should deliver. The payment rate can be up to 100% of the income
foregone but, for most ES options, is below 100%.
48. Because the current payment rates are based upon income foregone calculations that did
not anticipate this level of price rise, there is expected to be an impact on the attractiveness of
some ES options to arable producers as they seek to maximise production.
49. There is very limited discernible impact yet on uptake of options within agreements from
high cereal prices (nationally or specifically for example in the eastern region) – see graph
below. There seems to be some limited evidence of farmers moving away from certain options
that limit production potential. However farmers seem to be substituting, to an extent, with
other arable options that have less impact on production.
Proportion of ELS Points by Option Group (England)
100%
Management plans
Uplands
Lowland grassland
80%
Soil protection
Range of Crop types
60%
11
11
11
12
10
9
10
9
6
7
7
7
7
7
32
34
34
33
31
31
6
Arable Land
9
9
7
6
5
32
31
31
40%
36
Buffers strips and field
margins
Historic and landscape
features
Trees and Woodland
Boundary Features
20%
FER
0%
2005 JulSep
2005 Oct- 2006 JanDec
Mar
2006 Apr- 2006 JulJun
Sep
2006 Oct- 2007 JanDec
Mar
2007 Apr- 2007 JulJun
Sep
2007 OctDec
50. The rise in prices will also affect the livestock sector as the costs of feedstuffs rise. Again,
no major impact on ES has yet been discerned. It is hoped that, as during periods of high
prices in the past, agri-environment schemes will remain popular – applicants to HLS tend not
to be profit maximisers; and it is possible to join ELS without compromising production – some
options may even enhance efficiency.
18
Chapter 2: Introduction
51. A payment rate review is normally carried out about every five years. Because a review is
due in the next few years; and because altering the payment rate for one option in isolation
has an effect on the attractiveness and uptake of all other options, changes to individual option
payment rates in isolation were rarely considered in carrying out this review.
2.2.4 CAP Health Check
52. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) remains the cornerstone of publicly funded
support to farmers and the largest single element of the EU budget. But it has undergone
successive phases of reform in recent year, notably in 2003, which saw the introduction of
“decoupled” direct payments through the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and a substantial
strengthening of Rural Development as a so-called second Pillar, largely funded by transfer
(modulation) from farmers direct payment receipts.
53. This model is designed to continue for the current EU Financial Perspective, which lasts
until 2013. But the Council of Ministers agreed that there would be a “Health Check” in 2008,
following the further sectoral reforms of sugar (in 2005), fruit and vegetables (2007) and,
currently, wine. A consultation document on the Health Check was issued in November 2007,
with formal legislative proposals expected in May 2008. These are intended to take stock of
and improve the operation of SPS, to review the scope of cross-compliance (including possible
simplification), and to look at the case for continuing partially coupled support and the role
of remaining market intervention and supply controls (including what will happen when dairy
quotas expire).
54. A particular aspect relevant to ES is the future of set-aside (see Section 2.2.2), where
the Commission has signalled that it believes the existing compulsory requirement should be
abolished, with the introduction of accompanying measures to preserve the environmental
benefits which have resulted from taking land out of arable production.
55. The Health Check communication also identifies new challenges (in the areas of climate
change, bio-energy, water management and biodiversity) which the Commission believes
should be the subject of a strengthened Rural Development Pillar II, within the existing Financial
Perspective. No specific proposals have been put forward at this stage, so the present ES
review needs to retain a degree of flexibility to respond to what may come forward, while also
indicating areas where it believes that improvements can be made.
19
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Balance between incentive and regulatory action
It is a fundamental feature of the Rural Development Regulation that public funds
should not be used to deliver outcomes required by legislation and that payments
should be based on “income foregone” rather then represent a net benefit.
ES is therefore designed to sit above so-called baseline requirements, including
CAP cross compliance. Because regulatory requirements are subject to change (at
both EU and national level) the boundary with ES may also have to change during
the 7 year life of the RDPE. One example of this relates to implementation of the
EU Nitrates Directive, where the Commission believes England is not currently
in compliance. Other issues may arise as a result of the 2008 CAP Health Check
which have a knock-on effect on the boundary between cross compliance and
ES. In the longer term, decisions on EU expenditure as a whole may alter the
balance between policy instruments and the approach which is taken to delivering
environmental and other public good outcomes.
The review has considered the extent to which such developments could or should
be anticipated in ES design at this stage. With the exception of the Nitrates
Directive and other changes to the management plan options, the review has
however concluded that it would not be appropriate to make recommendations
which would artificially introduce a gap between minimum ES standards and the
regulatory baseline or which would prompt upward revision of such baselines
independent of their own policy processes.
20
3
The review process
3.1 Scope
56. The Review of Progress focused on the changes needed to ES to deliver Defra’s evolving
priorities and to ensure value for money. A full review of agri-environment schemes had been
carried out in 2002-4 and resulted in the launch of ES in 2005. Because this had been done
relatively recently, fundamental changes to the way in which agri-environment funds are spent
were not part of this review. The scope was therefore specifically to:
• consider whether ES, and all its elements, is on track to deliver against objectives, taking into
account the findings of the Initial Evaluation3, and to identify any necessary adjustments to
the scheme to secure increased value for money and environmental benefits,
• identify ways of maximising the contribution which ES can make to climate change mitigation
and adaptation, including considering the introduction of new options;
• consider, in the light of evaluation findings, special arrangements for the implementation of
ES in the uplands (it was agreed that this work would need to continue beyond the end of
the progress review);
• examine the administrative aspects of the scheme for both farmers and NE while continuing
to deliver the scheme’s outcomes, with a view to simplification and efficiency savings,
without compromising environmental effectiveness;
• review HLS targeting in the light of developing Government priorities including climate
change.
3.2 Structures and Governance
57. The review was Defra-led and conducted jointly with NE, the delivery body. The review
was managed through the following structures:
• a small project team (comprising Defra and NE staff) to lead and project manage the
review;
• workstreams covering the key areas set out below;
• a project board involving Defra policy and NE interests, and other relevant Government
bodies – the Environment Agency (EA), English Heritage (EH) and the Forestry Commission
(FC).
3.3 The Review Process
58. Following the launch of the review, an evidence and issues gathering exercise was carried
out. Colleagues within Defra, NE, EA and EH all contributed their views on how ES could be
improved in line with the review of progress objectives. Based on the responses, workstreams
were formed to consider the detailed issues as follows:
• Arable
• Grassland, moorland, wetland
3 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
21
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• Boundary, woodland and orchard
• Resource protection and flood management
• Climate change mitigation
• Access
• Farm Environment Plans (part of the HLS application process)
• Replacement to the Hill Farm Allowance (HFA)
• ES targeting and promotion
• A sub-group was also formed to cover issues relating to farmland bird numbers – this group
fed into the work of the arable, grassland and boundary groups.
59. Groups were led by either a Defra or NE member of staff. Membership of the groups was
drawn from Defra, NE, EA and, where appropriate, external stakeholders.
60. Flood management is a secondary objective of HLS i.e. expenditure is only directed at
actions to control flood risk where the expenditure will also contribute to a primary objective.
In carrying out the review, the Resource Protection and Flood Management workstream
considered all existing ES options and made recommendations to ensure they help minimise
flood risk where possible.
61. A strategic issues group was also formed to consider the wider issues associated with ES.
62. Towards the end of the review, when detailed changes to land management options had
been developed, four ‘Task and Finish’ groups were formed to examine various structural issues
identified by the strategic issues group. They were:
• The role of advice in ELS
• Restructuring ELS
• Enhanced ELS
• The HLS Farm Environment Plan (FEP).
3.4 Stakeholder Engagement
63. Stakeholders were closely involved in the review through some workstreams, a
series of stakeholder workshops, e-mail consultations and through informal meetings and
communications. A formal 12 week consultation was not carried out as it was felt unnecessary
for this scale of review and it would be unlikely to generate a greater input than would emerge
through informal consultation. Such a consultation would have also delayed the review and
hence implementation of the outcomes of the review. The Agri-Environment Review carried
out in 2002-4 involved three formal public consultations and the views expressed through
these and the consultations carried out as part of the RDPE development fed into this review.
22
Chapter 3: The review process
64. Those involved in the review of progress included:
Abacus Organics
Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO)
Butterfly Conservation
Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV)
Country Land and Business Association (CLA)
Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE)
Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)
Council for British Archaeology
Environment Agency
English Heritage
Forestry Commission
Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG)
Grasslands Trust
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Hampshire County Council
Hertfordshire County Council
National Trust
National Beef Association
National Farmers’ Union (NFU)
National Parks Association (represented by North York Moors National Park)
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Soil Association
Tenant Farmers’ Association
Wildlife & Countryside Link
Wildlife Trusts
Woodland Trust
65. Stakeholders attended four workshops in July, September and November 2007 and
January 2008 (Appendix 11.2). In addition written consultations were also carried out on
all draft recommendations. The Project Board considered the views expressed in reaching a
decision on which recommendations to put to Ministers.
23
4
Scheme Policy – Issues, evidence and
recommendations
4.1 Evidence
66. Various sources of evidence were used to inform the review including stakeholder and
government agency views, as well as monitoring, evaluation and research studies commissioned
by Defra and NE. The main source of such independent, objective evidence was the Evaluation
of ES carried out by the CSL (the Executive Summary is at Appendix 11.1).
67. Overall, the evidence suggests that there are no fundamental problems with ES, although
there are specific issues that need to be addressed, including some detailed changes to existing
options. The evidence also suggests that ELS is achieving its aim of both rewarding existing
good management practice, and stimulating change. The Initial Evaluation reflected the
significant administrative difficulties that existed when the scheme was launched; however,
these have decreased over time and are now generally resolved. The major recommendations
of the Evaluation were to consider:
• the balance of ELS/OELS options chosen by applicants.
• the best way of influencing choice of option uptake in ELS and OELS.
• how the HLS targeting process can be improved.
• reducing the complexity of the FEP.
• whether the gap between ELS/OELS and HLS is appropriate.
68. These issues were addressed in the review of progress and the evidence surrounding
them is given in more detail below.
69. The Evaluation showed that it is too early to assess accurately the contribution the scheme
is likely to make to many of its objectives, most of which take time to respond to intervention.
However, some work was specifically commissioned to try to model the contribution of ES to
biodiversity indicators and to water quality indicators4. This suggested that, while the scheme
should make an adequate contribution to maintaining and improving biodiversity, the impact
on water quality following the removal of management plan options would be small.
70. Other sources of evidence include:
• A study of the operation of ELS in upland areas5 which showed that the barriers to entry in
the uplands were largely perceived but that more advice could be beneficial.
• A re-evaluation of the ELS pilot areas6, which provided some useful evidence and detailed
recommendations about specific options, due to the longer time these agreements had
been in place (4 years) compared to the national scheme.
• Surveys by the NFU, Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) and Royal Institute of Chartered
Surveyors (RICS) which provided useful evidence on farmers’ views of ES and how they
might react to change.
4 Central
Science Laboratory (2007) Estimating Impacts of ELS on key biodiversity indicators and diffuse water pollution of surface waters
by Nutrients. Report for Defra (pending publication).
5 Central Science Laboratory (2007) An evaluation of the relative difficulty encountered by Upland and lowland grassland farmers in
entering ELS. Report to Defra MA01038.
6 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Re-evaluation of the ELS Pilot Scheme. Report to Defra (MA01039 – not yet published).
24
Chapter 4: Scheme Policy – Issues, Evidence and Recommendations
71. Stakeholders were also vital in providing evidence to inform the review. In line with the
Initial Evaluation, most were of the view that the scheme was operating satisfactorily and
that it was too early to judge the environmental outcomes the scheme would deliver. This is
supported by stakeholders’ written responses to the various consultations used to inform the
new RDPE7, on which there was broad support for ES.
72. In their role in informing the review, stakeholders can be broadly classified into two
groups – those with environmental interests who wanted the scheme to be more demanding
of land managers and those with agricultural interests who wanted to minimise the burden on
land managers. Stakeholders’ comments on the detailed review recommendations are shown
in Appendix 11.3 and their broad views on more strategic issues in Appendix 11.5
4.2 Issue 1. Role of ES
73. ES is designed to reward activities and actions over and above those required by
regulation, including cross-compliance. As regulations are amended, so ES may need to be
revised to ensure the requirements do not overlap.
74. ES is the main funding tool for achieving improvements in all the policy areas addressed
by its objectives. Other instruments and funding available varies by objective, for example
the Heritage Lottery Fund contributes to projects which help protect the historic environment
and the England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative works alongside ES in 40
priority catchments to help protect natural resources. It is important to ensure that ES operates
alongside these other funding sources, but that there is no dual funding (i.e. paying twice for
the same activity).
75. ES will make an important contribution to Defra’s performance framework. ES will be a
vital contributor to one of Defra’s two PSAs: to secure a healthy natural environment for today
and the future. There are five indicators for this PSA and two are directly relevant to ES:
• Biodiversity – as measured by data on bird populations in England as a proxy for the health
of wider biodiversity
• Land management – the positive and negative impacts of agricultural land management to
the natural environment.
76. ES will also make a contribution to four of the eight Departmental Strategic Objectives.
Several of the Intermediate Outcome indicators relate directly to ES; these include:
• Trends in populations of wild birds: population index for farmland, woodland, water and
wetland; combined index used in new PSA. These three measurements will be shown
separately
• Percentage of SSSIs meeting target condition (there is also a separate indicator on the
coastal element of this)
• Water Quality: improving water quality as measured by parameters assessed by EA river
water quality monitoring programmes
7 Defra
(2007) Consultation on the draft Rural Development Programme for England 2007-2013 (http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/
consult/rural-dev2007-13/index.htm)
25
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• Land managed sustainably as measured by overall area coverage of ES and previous
agri-environment schemes
• Soil management as measured by compliance with cross-compliance and take-up of
agri-environment options
• Length of linear features managed under agri-environment schemes.
77. In addition, the RDPE sets various uptake indicators for ES, the targets for which have
been set based upon about 70% of land coverage. This, combined with an assessment of
the contribution of each ES management option to each objective, has also been used to set
targets for the area of land contributing to improvement in biodiversity, water quality and soil
quality. A target for climate change mitigation will be developed using the same methodology.
There are also targets for the area of land contributing to improvement in landscape quality
and the amount of educational and linear access we expect to deliver; and the condition of
Natura 2000 sites.
78. There are no plans to change the policy on the role of ES in the short term. However,
in carrying out the review of targeting of ES (see section 7.5), some policy decisions may be
required in deciding how the scheme objectives are articulated in targeting specific areas for
HLS agreements and in deciding how to allocate the limited HLS budget to address priorities.
4.3 Issue 2. Relationship of ES with other policy instruments
79. This table shows how ES relates to other instruments in each of the policy areas covered
by ES objectives; and makes an assessment of how important ES is in contributing to the
objectives in that policy area.
26
Objective
Climate
Change –
mitigation
Driver/Targets
Regulation/Crosscompliance
Incentives
No direct regulation or
cross compliance measures
on reducing GHGs from
agriculture; but some
regulations and measures
under cross compliance
impact on GHG emissions
e.g. Nitrates Directive,
set aside, Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA)
regs and permanent
pasture Good Agriculture
and Environmental
Condition (GAEC).
No direct incentives
yet for reducing GHGs
from agriculture
(although RDAs can
give capital grants for
anaerobic digesters).
Some instruments
have an impact, but
are not driven by GHG
reductions. RDAs can
give capital grants for
anaerobic digesters to
reduce methane from
livestock slurry.
IPPC Regulations apply
to intensive pig and
poultry producers. Climate
change levy has also led
to reductions in pig sector.
Cross compliance GAEC
will help to reduce soil
erosion, and indirectly
reducing run-off including
dissolved carbon content.
Climate change bill
currently being negotiated.
Importance of ES
Contribution of ES
High – ES could
be an additional
instrument to raise
awareness and
encourage change.
Medium – potential.
ES can be improved
to make more of a
contribution over the
next few years; but
other instruments will
be needed as well.
Contribution likely to
be through ELS due
to wide coverage.
OELS also should
reduce emissions, but
coverage restricted.
HLS impact likely to be
restricted to restoring/
protecting important
carbon stores such as
peat, fen etc.
Chapter 4: Scheme Policy – Issues, Evidence and Recommendations
Kyoto target to reduce
Greenhouse gases (GHGs)
by 12.5% (below 1990
levels) by 2012; EU target
to reduce GHGs by 20%
by 2020; domestic target
to reduce CO2 emissions
by 20% by 2010; Climate
Change Bill contains
targets to reduce CO2 by
26-32% by 2020 and by
60% by 2050; targets
for other GHGs may be
introduced in future; Defra
PSA on climate change and
associated Intermediate
Outcome (IO) indicators
relating to agriculture.
UK CC Programme
2006 – includes specific
commitments on
agriculture.
Other Instruments
27
28
Climate
Change –
adaptation
Wildlife
Conservation
Driver/Targets
Other Instruments
Regulation/Crosscompliance
Incentives
Changing climate will force
some protected species
to leave current habitats.
New species may arrive.
Some of these may well
have an invasive impact on
current native biodiversity.
Climate Change Bill will
include a requirement for
government to regularly
assess the risks from
climate change and to
publish a programme to
address them.
Habitats Directive.
Hedgerow Regs 1997.
No other direct
incentives.
Wildlife and Countryside
Act 1981.
RDAs can encourage
winter storage
reservoirs.
EU target to reverse
biodiversity decline by
2010.
Habitats and Birds
Directives, Wildlife &
Countryside Act; Protected
areas – SSSI, National
Nature Reserves (NNRs)
etc. Cross-compliance
protects some features.
Biodiversity Action Plan
(BAP) targets, Natural
Environment PSA (incl.
birds); SSSI IO Indicator;
Cross compliance
requirement for 2 m
protective strips along
hedges and watercourses.
Importance of ES
Contribution of ES
High – ES is main
instrument. Role is
largely in helping
biodiversity to adapt
plus some impact on
flood risk and coastal
realignment.
High – ELS has high
potential because of
large area covered.
HLS role in protecting
existing high value
habitats and species;
and limited impact
on flood risk (see
below) and coastal
realignment.
High – ES is main
tool. Regulations
relating to SSSI
High – significant
evidence of
effectiveness. ELS for
widespread species
e.g. birds and HLS for
rarer more threatened
species.
Set-aside had incidental
benefits.
Public bodies have to
have regard to impact of
climate change.
Private Sector assurance
schemes; land
ownership by wildlife
Non Governmental
Organisations (NGOs).
Whilst some assurance
schemes like Jordans’
oats for example, act
as an incentive other
schemes more akin to
regulation. HLF
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Objective
Objective
Driver/Targets
Other Instruments
Regulation/Crosscompliance
Importance of ES
Contribution of ES
Incentives
European Landscape
Convention– duty to
establish, implement and
monitor policies. Linear
features Defra Intermediate
Outcomes Indicator.
1949 National Park and
Schemes within
Access to the Countryside protected areas.
Act, Countryside and
Rights of Way Act and
Norfolk and Suffolk Broads
Act 1988 place a duty on
authorities to have regard
to the purposes of NPs,
AONBs; Planning law,
Hedgerow regs, Crosscompliance requirements
for the protection of stone
walls, hedgerows, trees
and watercourses.
High – ES is main
tool for positive
change. ES can have
multi-benefit positive
change in looking at
the role of woodland
in landscape to both
protect water, and
enhance amenity and
visual aspects.
Hard to assess – ELS
should have an effect
because of the large
area covered; but too
early for evidence. HLS
impact limited to high
quality areas.
Historic
Environment
European Landscape
Convention, Heritage
Protection Bill – will unify
the register and increase
protection for monuments
under cultivation, EH
Heritage at Risk initiative
– to record and assess
annually heritage at risk.
Scheduled Monuments
legislation, Listed building
protection, but nothing
for other monuments,
buildings and historic
landscapes.
High, but few
specific measures
to address diffuse
pollution in either
ELS or HLS.
High – evidence of
effectiveness. ELS
role of restoring
monuments and
maintaining condition
of buildings; HLS also
allows for restoration
of buildings.
HLF; limited English
Heritage grant aid.
Chapter 4: Scheme Policy – Issues, Evidence and Recommendations
Landscape
29
30
Driver/Targets
Other Instruments
Regulation/Crosscompliance
Incentives
Importance of ES
Contribution of ES
Natural
Resource
Protection –
water quality
Water Framework Directive
– good ecological standard;
Nitrates and Groundwater
Directives; Bathing Water
Directive; Freshwater Fish
Directive; also Natural
Resources PSA, IO indicator
for water quality.
Point source pollution
regulation. Crosscompliance and Silage
Slurry and Agriculture Fuel
Oil regulation. EPA 1995
– works notices, etc. for
Diffuse Water Pollution
from Agriculture.
ECSFDI in 40
catchments – advice
and small capital items
(delivery reliant on ES).
Voluntary Initiative for
Pesticides.
High in absence of
further regulation.
Too early to fully
assess – considerable
time lag to see water
quality changes but
changes in farm
practice could be
taken as proxy for
likely impacts based
on expert opinion.
However, early
modelling (under
ECSFDI) indicates
targeted action is
effective. ELS likely
to have a greater
contribution because
widespread.
Natural
Resource
Protection –
soil quality
Natural Environment
PSA & Climate Change
PSA; IO indicators for
soils; commitment to halt
organic matter decline by
2025 (Sustainable Farming
and Food Strategy).
Cross-compliance: requires
measures to address
erosion, protect organic
matter and soil structure.
Implemented through
GAEC 1 -4 including the
Soil Protection Review. EIA
Regs & GAEC permanent
pasture limit grassland
conversion to arable.
ECSFDI as above, plus
pilot sub-project on soil
carbon management.
High
Too early to fully
assess – little evidence
of contribution. ELS
likely to have a greater
contribution because
widespread. HLS can
only contribute to
localised problems.
Early modelling (under
ECSFDI) indicates
effective.
Access –
educational
(HLS only)
Public experience IO
indicator.
None.
Small charity schemes
for educational access.
High – ES is only
government tool.
High ES is main
provider nationally of
educational access.
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Objective
Objective
Driver/Targets
Other Instruments
Regulation/Crosscompliance
Access –
linear (HLS
only)
National Indicators to
measure national priorities
for local government
through Local Area
Agreements.
Importance of ES
Contribution of ES
Medium – ES is an
important tool for
extending access
where people likely
to want new access
to countryside.
Medium – small
amount but
targeted new access
where needed
and contributes to
implementation of
statutory Rights of
Way Improvement
Plans.
Incentives
RoW legislation incl
No direct incentives but
Highways Act 1980 &
Local Transport Plans,
CRoW. Cross-compliance – Lottery, and Aggregate
GAEC 8.
Levy Sustainability Fund.
Flood
Management
(HLS only)
In addition to the driver
of increased damage by
flooding – EU Directive
for the assessment and
management of flood risk.
Planning legislation, Coast
Protection Act. Land
Drainage Act. CROW.
Environment Act 1995.
Currently £6,000m Govt Medium in some
funding pa, rising to
rural areas on high
£8,000m by 2011.
frequency flood
events where and
local surface water
management.
Low – only a
secondary objective.
But could be
improved by better
targeting of relevant
ES options when EA
flood management
strategies (catchment
flood management
plans and shoreline
management plans)
become available.
Effective where used
in association with
primary objective.
Convention on Biological
Diversity/Interlaken
Declaration.
Native Breeds at Risk
Supplement.
High. An ES secondary
objective (HLS only).
Flood Management IO
indicator to reduce risk to
people & the environment.
Genetic
Conservation
(HLS only)
National Action Plan
on Farm Animal Genetic
Resources.
High – ES is currently
the only scheme
offering direct
financial support for
Native breeds-at-risk
in situ.
Chapter 4: Scheme Policy – Issues, Evidence and Recommendations
NE priorities to target
additional access where
needed.
31
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
4.4 Issue 3. Climate Change
80. Addressing climate change is not currently an explicit objective of ES. Climate change
mitigation is one of three priorities for Axis 2 expenditure (alongside biodiversity and water)
under the new RDPE, agreed by the EU in the Rural Development Strategic Priorities. Since the
bulk of the expenditure under Axis 2, and indeed the whole RDPE, will be made through ES, it
is important that ES should explicitly address climate change mitigation in future.
81. Following the agreement of the strategic priorities under the RDPE, in 2006 Defra
commissioned the University of Hertfordshire to carry out a project to assess the current
contribution (both positive and negative) of ES to climate change mitigation, and to make
recommendations for future ES options to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from
agriculture. The draft report calculates the greenhouse gas emission impact of current options
under ES. The report suggests that ES has a net positive impact on reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. However, this depends upon continued management under ES. Options with the
greatest overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere are those which
reduce emissions in the form of fuel consumption, nitrous oxide emissions from the soil, and
methane emissions from livestock, in addition to options which increase the carbon storage
potential of the land upon which the option is implemented – for example options which
involve land use change such as conversion from intensive arable to low input grassland, or
implementation of non-cultivated strips are the most beneficial. It should be noted that options
risk ‘leakage’ i.e. by reducing domestic production, more demand has to be met through
imports; however, this was not factored into consideration of the results because it is not
currently possible to predict what the impact of this may be.
82. To consider how to address this in ES, a workstream was formed specifically to examine
climate change mitigation. Climate change adaptation is covered in Section 5.7. The detailed
recommendations regarding climate change are shown in Appendix 11.3. In addition, the
recommendations aimed at increasing the contribution of ES to resource protection will have
a significant climate change mitigation impact.
Recommendation: Climate change should be an overarching theme of ES. This
should be expressed by adding the following text after the list of objectives:
“Through meeting these objectives, Environmental Stewardship will:
• support the adaptation of the natural environment to climate change;
• enhance the contribution of agriculture and land management to climate change
mitigation, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing
and protecting carbon storage.”
32
Chapter 4: Scheme Policy – Issues, Evidence and Recommendations
4.5 Issue 4. Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) Replacement – Uplands ELS
83. The then Secretary of State, David Miliband, announced in December 2006 that after the
Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) ended in 2009 uplands support would be fully integrated into ES,
and that the Government was minded to do this through a specific Uplands strand of ELS. The
development of the successor to the HFA has been taken forward as a specific workstream,
although it was always acknowledged that this work would need to continue beyond the end
of the review.
84. Work has therefore focused on how an Uplands strand could be designed in order to
deliver our objectives, rather than considering alternative schemes. The objective is to ensure
that hill farmers are rewarded for the environmental and landscape benefits they provide, and
to move away from the compensatory nature of the HFA.
85. The development of Uplands ELS has been closely linked to the other Review of Progress
workstreams, particularly on related issues such as the level of advice and the inclusion of
capital works in ELS. Specific arrangements for Uplands ELS have been put in place to reflect
the longer timescale and the specific stakeholders involved. This includes a policy group
(chaired by Defra) to advise on the strategic and policy issues, and a technical group (chaired by
NE) to advise on the detail of scheme design. Both groups include representatives from Defra,
NE, EA and other delivery bodies, as well as key external stakeholders. A Hill Farming Panel has
also been established (facilitated by the NFU), to help “ground truth” the practicality of the
emerging scheme.
86. Initial scheme development will be completed in April 2008, after which Ministerial
approval will be sought and consultation will take place in the summer. Final changes will be
made to any proposed scheme in late 2008, after which a RDPE programme modification will
be submitted to the EU and NE will put in place the necessary IT and delivery arrangements,
and plan to publicise Uplands ELS from mid 2009 – ready for the 1 January 2010.
87. Objectives. The proposed strategic objective for Uplands ELS is “to maintain and improve
the biodiversity, natural resources, landscape and historical values of England’s uplands8, and to
contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, by supporting the land management
practices which deliver these benefits”.
88. Uplands ELS will be an optional and supplementary strand to ELS open only to hill farmers
in the Severely Disadvantaged Area (SDA). Farmers will need to be in ELS to be eligible for
Uplands ELS, with the possible exception of common land.
89. The possible suite of new options and/or requirements for Uplands ELS is currently being
explored with the advisory groups and Hill Farming Panel. A key issue being considered is the
inclusion (or not) of small-scale capital works within Uplands ELS. Although there is support
in principle for a small-scale capital programme in the uplands, it seems likely that we will
not include it in Uplands ELS following strong concern from the hill farming panel about the
impact of this on the Uplands ELS budget. The proposal to explore capital works within ELS
(see section 7.3) may be a more appropriate method of delivering this in the uplands. Another
key issue is the level of advice needed to ensure sufficient uptake to achieve our objectives –
particularly over the significant area of common land in the uplands. This ties in closely with
8 Uplands = Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA).
33
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
the wider ELS recommendations on advice provision, although further work is needed by the
UELS advisory groups on ensuring common land is brought into the new arrangements.
90. Stakeholders have been closely involved from an early stage and, overall, stakeholder
engagement has been very positive. It will, however, be far more challenging to ensure this
positiveness continues as more detail of the proposed scheme emerges over the next 3 months,
with the Hill Farming Panel playing a key role.
4.6 Issue 5. Energy Crops
91. Recommendation 33 of the Gill Biomass Taskforce states that:
‘The Entry Level Scheme should be amended to recognise the biodiversity and other
environmental benefits of energy crops.’
92. The response suggested that the evidence on the biodiversity and other environmental
benefits of energy crops are not clear, but went on to state:
‘We agree in principle to continuing support for energy crops in the next Rural
Development Programme for England and will consider energy crops issues as part of the
review of progress of Environmental Stewardship in 2007/08.’
93. All Energy Crops Scheme (ECS) growers are eligible to apply for ELS using their non ECS
cropped land in the same way as farmers not in ECS. However, many felt they should also be
able to apply options to their ECS land, as this would deliver synergistic benefits with the energy
crops being grown. In the short time available, two options were considered for inclusion: Wild
bird mix on set-aside (EF3) and Pollen & nectar Mix on set-aside (EF5) as the payment rate only
covered the costs of establishment and had no component of lost income. The ECS payment is
a proportion of the establishment costs only, so there was no dual funding aspects identified.
94. Although the principle of adopting these options on ECS was considered, there were
still concerns of how these would be managed with crops that were annually harvested and
whether it would offer value for money in these specific woody contexts. More work was
identified as being needed before these could be considered.
Recommendation: further work is done to examine whether ELS options can be
developed or adapted to maximise the environmental contribution of energy crop
cultivation.
34
5
Scheme Effectiveness, Design and Process
– Issues and Evidence
95. An initial review of the evidence identified eight specific issues that could be addressed
through changes in scheme design and process. These issues were subsequently tested and
refined via the strategic issues workstream and stakeholder engagement workshops. These
issues are as follows, and are reviewed in more detail in the subsequent sections:
1. Improving the effectiveness of ES options
2. Sectoral (and associated geographical) variations in the level of ELS uptake
3. Fit of ELS options chosen in relation to local environmental priorities of the area
4. Balance of options within ELS agreements (particularly balance between field boundary
and in-field options, but also balance across scheme objectives)
5. Gap between ELS and HLS issues coverage
6. Getting the best environmental outcomes and value for money from HLS
7. Climate Change adaptation
8. Closed agri-environment scheme transfer rates.
5.1 Issue 1. Improving the effectiveness of ES options
96. A major focus of the review is to make changes to ES options to improve their effectiveness.
These changes result mainly from:
• Operational experience
• Feedback from agreement holders
• Stakeholder comments
• New evidence from research/monitoring.
5.2 Issue 2. Sectoral variations in level of ELS agreement uptake
97. The CSL evaluation9 shows good uptake within cereals, general cropping, mixed and dairy
sectors to date. However, extensive lowland and Less Favoured Area (LFA) grazing livestock
farms are less likely to enter (although some of these have existing closed agri-environment
scheme agreements which prevent them from entering) and this is a concern because these
farm systems tend to coincide with areas of high environmental value. Evidence from the CSL
follow on evaluation10 and the Red Meat Industry Forum11 suggests this is due to perceived
difficulty in achieving the required points threshold and concludes that there is a need for
greater support. Unsurprisingly, horticultural and specialist pigs and poultry farms are least
likely to have entered ELS. A similar pattern emerges for OELS except for lowland livestock
farms and horticultural holdings where the uptake of ELS is higher.
9 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
evaluation of the relative difficulty encountered by Upland and lowland grassland farmers in entering ELS (2007). Report to Defra
MA01038.
11 Red Meat Industry Forum and Harper Adams (2007) Analysis of Entry Level Scheme Uptake by Red Meat Industry Forum Members in the
English Midlands. RMIF for MLC.
10 An
35
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
98. Evidence of rising commodity prices suggests some sectors e.g. cereals, may find ES less
attractive in the future. This is an important issue to consider when looking at ensuring ELS
agreement holders renew from 2010 onwards.
5.3 Issue 3. Fit of ELS options in relation to local environmental
priorities.
99. Analysis of option uptake against the Joint Character Area (JCA) targeting statements for
the scheme (see Annex 11.5) provide a starting point from which to assess the extent to which
uptake reflects identified targets. Overall the position is good with the majority of points in
nearly all JCAs being scored against priority options (max. 87%). However, this does disguise
significant variability:
• Many of the targeting statements identify a high number of the scheme options as specific
targets (max. 51, min. 10 out of 63) – about 25% identify over half the scheme options as
targets.
• A large proportion of target options identified within the targeting statements have very
low uptake – consistently two thirds of target options in all JCAs each scored less than 1%
of all the points scored in that JCA.
100. This analysis tends to confirm the evidence from the CSL evaluation12 that ELS guidance
notes are not widely used in decision making on option choice. However, the CSL evaluation
also shows some evidence of the ‘right’ options in the ‘right’ part of the farm e.g. for arable
plants, birds species and catchments at risk of pollution. This suggests that, particularly at the
field level, option location is being considered carefully.
5.4 Issue 4. Balance of options within ELS agreements
101. Analysis shows that many ELS agreements are focused around a very limited number of
options:
• The six most popular options in the scheme (including the compulsory Farm Environment
Record) account for 49% of all points scored. The 20 most popular options account for 90%
of all the points scored within the scheme. The remaining 42 options account for only 10%
of the points scored within the scheme.
• 15% of all ELS agreements score more than 70% of their points from lowland grassland
options, with 9% scoring over 90% of their points from this option group.
• 6% of all ELS agreements score 70% or more of their points from boundary options.
• Combining boundary and lowland grassland options together – 40% of all ELS agreements
score more than 70% of their points from boundary and lowland grassland options alone,
including almost 20% who score in excess of 90% of their points from these two option
groups.
12 36
Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
Chapter 5: Scheme Effectiveness, Design and Process – Issues and Evidence
102. The 2004 evaluation of the ELS pilot areas13 states: “The environmental evaluation
suggests that a range of benefits has arisen from the pilot scheme. However, option choice
was often restricted to too few options, and that to achieve the full potential benefits, some
method of widening the range of options chosen is needed. Results of uptake analysis, farmer
questionnaires and partner surveys indicate that many farmers chose the options which
involved least change to their management, and found it relatively easy to make up their points
requirements with a few “simple” options, thus avoiding the more demanding, but often more
beneficial, options.” and “There is a strong message from all elements of the evaluation that
some method needs to be found of increasing the number of options taken up by applicants,
and encouraging uptake of the more demanding (and hence, less popular) options. This could
be achieved by adjusting the points allocations, or by grouping options and requiring that
at least one be chosen from each group.” As a result of this, some minor changes to points
allocations were made to a number of options, but this has not had an impact on the range
of options chosen in ES.
103. The latest CSL evaluation14 states that: “The highly skewed distribution of uptake for
different options suggests that farmers are selecting those options which involve least additional
work or change to existing management practices. This view is supported by the results of the
participant questionnaire survey; however baseline assessment indicated that management
change will still be necessary in many cases.” and “those farm types with higher numbers of
options were more likely to choose options such as buffer strips, wild birds seed mix etc. When
giving reasons for choosing these options ‘high points score’ was more likely to feature than
for the more generally popular options. This suggests that these farms (largely arable and pig)
may have found it more difficult to achieve their points score with ‘easy’ options, and looked
for those which they considered had a high points allocation to reach their threshold”.
104. The report goes on to recommend that: “consideration should be given to methods of
encouraging uptake of less popular options, – e.g. limit the proportion of points that could
be accumulated through boundary management”. These conclusions are also reflected in
the findings of other research15 which suggest that uptake of more in-field options will be
necessary to increase farmland bird numbers. There is no conclusive evidence as yet to know
whether this results in other sub-optimal outcomes.
105. A more recent study for the ES Review16 concluded that scale and quality of the resource
are important for scheme delivery for farmland birds, but also how they are deployed with
respect to one another. The key conclusions were:
• The biggest problem with ELS is the pattern of uptake in the mix of options chosen.
• The popularity and unpopularity of options results in gaps in the resource provision necessary
to help certain species sufficiently. This is already evident and seems unlikely to improve with
increased overall uptake.
13 Central Science Laboratory (2004) Evaluation of the Pilot Entry Level Agri-Environment Scheme. Report to Defra ER02004.
Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
15 Butler, S J et al (2007) Farmland biodiversity and the footprint of agriculture. Science 315:381-384.Science paper (Butler, Vickery, Norris,
2007 Farmland Biodiversity and the Footprint of Agriculture.
16 Vickery, J, Chamberlain, D, Evans, A, Ewing, S, Boatman, N, Pietravalle, S, Norris, K & Butler, S 2007. Predicting the impact of future
agricultural change and uptake of Entry Level Stewardship on farmland birds. BTO Research Report No. 485. Final Draft report to Natural
England and Defra of project BD 1636.
14 37
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• There is a need to find ways of ‘rebalancing’ option uptake. The most important options to
promote are ‘in field’ options.
• The level of benefits (to farmland birds) depends on option quality, option quantity and
delivery, but the option mix is probably the most important variable with the current uptake
patterns.
5.5 Issue 5. Gap between ELS and HLS issues coverage
106. Financially there is a significant gap between ELS and HLS within ES. ELS agreements are
limited to £30 ha/yr (£8 for non-enclosed SDA land) whereas HLS agreements have no such
limit and the higher degree of management involved means that the average payment for HLS
agreements is about £200 ha/yr, including capital items (although these are on the basis of 2-3
year plans so an agreement life average is not yet available).
107. The fact that capital items are not available in ELS also exacerbates this gap, especially
as some environmental objectives (e.g. resource protection) need widespread capital items to
achieve significant change.
108. The relatively low transfer rate from expiring agri-environment scheme agreements into
ES and, particularly, ELS (see Issue 8), also highlights this issue.
5.6 Issue 6. Getting the best environmental outcomes and value for
money from HLS
109. Analysis suggests that the HLS budget is not sufficient to achieve all ES outcomes. The
HLS budget rises during the current RDPE programming period (2007-13) as commitments to
existing closed agri-environment scheme agreements end and are recycled to HLS. Towards
the end of the period the annual budget (to fund new and existing agreements) is anticipated
to be in the order of £200 million. However, it is estimated that the annual cost of achieving
the English portion of the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan targets alone would be £430m17 and
that ES (including ELS) would be the appropriate mechanism for £324m of this18. Given the
range of ES objectives, of which biodiversity is just one, it is clear that the current budget will
not be sufficient to fully address all the scheme objectives. Therefore it is crucial that money
is focussed on those areas where maximum environmental benefit can be achieved across as
many of the scheme objectives as possible.
5.7 Issue 7. Climate Change Adaptation
110. Climate change is currently the most pressing environmental issue. The policy
recommendation to introduce Climate Change as an overarching policy theme for ES (see
4.4) formally introduces the issue of how ES can be used to help the environment adapt to
climate change. Because ES covers the majority of agricultural land in England, it can have a
significant impact in terms of climate change adaptation. As ES extends payments for practices
that benefit biodiversity beyond ‘special’ sites to the wider countryside, it should be able to
help species adapt to a changing climate by improving the quality of habitats and so making
migration easier.
17 18 38
GHK (2006) Costs of Delivering the UK BAP. Report to Defra.
RSPB (2006) Analysis of Agri-environment Delivery for UK BAP.
Chapter 5: Scheme Effectiveness, Design and Process – Issues and Evidence
5.8 Issue 8. Closed agri-environment scheme transfer rates
111. Rates of transfer of expiring agri-environment scheme agreements into ES (ELS and HLS)
are disappointingly low. Analysis by NE19 illustrates this.
Agreements
Expired
(total)
Renewed
(& renewing)
into ES
Renewal
Rate
CSS
1094
330
30.16%
ESA
2476
604
24.39%
Total
3570
934
26.16%
Overview of Renewal
Rates
112. There is concern that the extensive benefits accrued from the previous investment in now
closed agri-environment schemes are not being safeguarded. This issue is also linked in part
to issue 4, the gap between ELS and HLS coverage. The lack of capital items in ELS has been
identified as one reason for this low rate of renewal20.
113. This issue is already being addressed directly by NE through a co-ordinated programme
of follow-up contact with expiring closed agri-environment scheme agreements. NE has also
commissioned further research to help better identify and understand the reasons for this
pattern.
5.9 Potential Solutions
114. A range of potential solutions, that could be deployed to address the scheme effectiveness,
design and process issues, have been identified.
Solution Strand
Generic Solution
Specific Solutions
Changes to
Improve Option
Effectiveness
New/revised ELS
Options
Revised ELS Options
1, 3, 4, 7
Combined ‘Compound’
Options e.g. in-field and
boundary options packaged
into one.
1, 3, 4, 7
New/revised HLS
Options
Revised HLS Options
Issues
Addressed
1, 7, 8
Tapering HLS option payments
– reduced rate when uptake
on a holding exceeds a certain
area.
6
19 Analysis
by Natural England Genesis Reporting team based on closed agri-environment scheme agreement details from the AESIS
computer system and ES agreement details from the Genesis computer system as at September 2007.
20 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
39
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Solution Strand
Generic Solution
Specific Solutions
Issues
Addressed
Changes to
Scheme Design
– ELS Support
Advice, Promotion and
Support
Tailored Promotion
2, 3, 4, 5,
7, 8
Tailored pre-agreement advice
and support
2, 3, 4, 5,
7, 8
Awareness raising/training for
NE advisers/agents
2, 3, 4, 5,
7, 8
Best practice in implementing
agreements
1, 2, 3, 7, 8
Changes to
Scheme Design
– Restructuring
ELS
Managing Option
availability through
split lists
Lists divided by scheme
objective
4
Infield/Boundary option lists
4
Priority Option Lists High
priority – requirement to
choose % of points from high
list
Points rebalancing
Points rebalancing within
Income Foregone Ceilings
Exclusively Geographic
Approaches
Regional Payment Rates
Geographically tailored option
lists
Changes to
Scheme Design
– Enhanced ELS
Changes to
Scheme Process
40
3, 4
2, 4, 8
1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3, 4, 8
Capital Items
Capital Items
3, 5, 8
Higher Points per
Hectare
Enhanced payments
HLS Targeting
Map-based approach to HLS
Targeting
6
HLS FEP Issues
Drop the requirement for a FEP
6
Significantly streamlined FEP
6
Simplified FEP
6
3, 5
ES Payment Rate
Review
Payment Rate Review
1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 8
Process change
to maximise
administrative
efficiency
Maximising Administrative
Efficiency
2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 8
Chapter 5: Scheme Effectiveness, Design and Process – Issues and Evidence
115. A preliminary assessment of the potential scope of these solutions was then undertaken
to focus further development work on those solutions with most potential for addressing
the issues identified. A preliminary assessment of how easily these could be delivered was
also made at this stage to help inform further development. This assessment of scope was
then tested with stakeholders and refined accordingly. A summary of this initial assessment is
presented below:
Deliverability, including simplicity for applicants,
implementation and operation.
Extent of likely Low
environmental
benefit
Medium
Complex
Moderate
Simple
ELS – Regional
Payment Rates
HLS – Drop the
requirement for a
FEP
ELS – Points
rebalancing within
Income Foregone
Ceilings
ELS –
Geographically
tailored option
lists
ELS – Lists divided
by scheme
objective.
HLS – Significantly
streamlined FEP
HLS – Simplified
FEP
ELS – Combined
Options e.g.
in-field and
boundary options
packaged into
one.
HLS – Tapering
option payments
– reduced rate
when uptake on a
holding exceeds a
certain area.
ES – Scheme
Payment Rate
Review
ELS – Awareness
raising/training for
NE advisers/agents
ELS – Enhanced
payments.
ELS – Tailored
Promotion
ELS – Infield/
Boundary split
option lists.
ES – Maximising
Administrative
Efficiency.
ELS – Capital
Items.
41
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Deliverability, including simplicity for applicants,
implementation and operation.
Complex
Extent of likely High
environmental
benefit
Moderate
Simple
ELS – Priority
Option Lists
High priority –
requirement to
choose % of
points from high
list.
ELS – Tailored preagreement advice
and support.
Revised HLS
Options.
Revised ELS
Options.
Map-based
approach to HLS
Targeting.
ELS – Training/
Advice – Best
practice in
implementing
agreements.
116. The potential solutions proposed are not mutually exclusive and a combination of solutions
could be implemented. In relation to ELS there is an inherent tension between securing more
sophisticated, better targeted environmental outcomes and increased scheme complexity that
may result in reduced scheme uptake/renewal. This has been a major consideration in solution
evaluation. Some solutions may allow any additional complexity to be internalised within NE,
however, typically this entails an associated cost.
42
6
S cheme effectiveness – evaluating solutions
and recommendations
6.1 Changes to ELS options to improve effectiveness
117. The full details of the changes proposed to ELS options are presented in Appendix 11.3.
Typically the recommendations fall into four broad types of changes: (1) modifications to the
management or deployment of existing options which are neutral in effect i.e. do not make
the option either more of less demanding; (2) modifications which will make options more
demanding or less flexible; (3) modifications which will make options less demanding or more
flexible; and (4) introduction of new options. A brief summary of the key changes proposed by
each workstream is as follows.
Overall Recommendation: Over 100 detailed changes to ELS options (revised options,
prescriptions and new options), outlined in Appendix 11.3 should be implemented
by Natural England with input from EA, FC and EH where necessary. These are:
• changes to existing options and prescriptions to improve the scheme and resolve
minor issues – the majority fall into this category (about 40) ;
• changes to make existing options and prescriptions more demanding (about 27);
• changes to make existing options and prescriptions more flexible (about 20);
and
• develop and introduce a number of new options (about 14).
6.1.1 Grassland Workstream
118. Spend on low-input and very low-input grassland options (EK2, EK3, EL2 and EL3) is very
high. The CSL Initial Evaluation21 confirms that in many cases these involve little or no change
to previous management. They do not restrict severity of grazing or topping and so flowering/
seeding may be very limited and the heterogeneous structure desirable for invertebrates, birds
and other taxa may not develop or be retained. Uptake of the mixed stocking option (EK5)
is also quite high, but it requires only 15% cattle which is unlikely to deliver sufficient sward
heterogeneity. In the uplands the uptake of the rough grazing option (EL5), aimed mainly at
birds, is low.
Key Recommendations:
EK2, EK3, EL2, EL3: add more explanation of desirable sward condition, and
prescriptions on sward height and topping. Consider separate options or supplements
for pastures and meadows.
EK5: Mixed stocking: increase requirement to 30% cattle.
EL5: allow supplementary feeding, with restrictions, and increase parcel size limit.
21 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
43
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
6.1.2 Arable Workstream
119. Uptake and spend on some arable options has been high (Field Corners EF1, Wildbird
Seed Mix EF2, Pollen & Nectar mix EF4, Overwinter Stubble EF6 and Brassica crops followed by
stubble EG5). These are relatively easy to adopt into arable farming rotations without too much
disruption. However, the general nature of some prescriptions has led to poor understanding
by farmers of the desired option outcomes. Other options have had disappointingly low uptake
(Skylark Plots EF8, Conservation Headlands EF9 & EF10 and Uncropped Cultivated Margins
EF11). This is generally because they are more difficult to include in the crop rotations and require
significant management input. A number of ELS option gaps have also been identified including
higher value stubbles, spring fallows and combined options (see ‘Set-aside’ box below).
120. There is strong evidence from recent studies and evaluations22 that some arable options
are failing to deliver the outcomes needed to halt and reverse the long-term declines in key UK
farmland birds, rare plants and some BAP-priority mammals. The rapid and sustained increase
in arable commodity prices have also placed increased pressure on land managers to allocate
land areas to environmental options, to the extent that some payment rates may become the
barrier to their adoption. Some small changes to archaeological options will help deliver better
protection.
Key Recommendations:
EF9 & EF10: Remove conventional conservation headland as it does not deliver
value for money. Make fertiliser-free headlands unharvested to deliver seed supply
over the critical winter months between December and February.
EF2/EG2: Provide better specification of permitted crops, increase in scale allowed
to reduce the risks of rapid site depletion, and use of inputs to help establishment
and deliver greater wildbird seed yield.
EF4: Removal of requirement for grass to help deliver more nectar.
EF8: Changes to establishment techniques of skylark plots to help increase uptake.
EF11: Allow a range of margin widths that can be rotated and treated with
herbicide for problem weeds to improve uptake.
6.1.3 Field Boundary, Orchards and Woodland Options Workstream
121. Uptake of field boundary options (hedgerows, walls and ditches) has been extremely
successful to date, with an annual spend of over £44m (data from September 2007). Hedgerow
options in particular have resulted in considerable behavioural change, with half of applicants
changing their management to meet the requirements of the scheme23. However, as hedgerow
options often provide the bulk of points towards the threshold the review has been used as an
opportunity to fine tune the requirements to clarify eligibility, maximise environmental benefit
and value for money. Similarly, woodland options have also been considered in this way.
Opportunities for new options to protect and manage features not adequately covered within
ES have also been identified.
22 BTO,
RSPB, GCT and Oxford University (2007) Predicting the impact of future agricultural change and uptake of ES on farmland birds.
Report to Defra BD1636.
23 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
44
Chapter 6: Scheme effectiveness – evaluating solutions and recommendations
Key Recommendations:
EC4: Extend width of buffer for woodland edge options from 2 to 6m and tightening
of eligibility criteria and suitability guidance.
EC1/2: Investigate extension of buffer zone around infield trees from under the
canopy to 2m from the edge of the canopy.
New options: Introduce new options for the establishment of new hedgerow trees
and protection of existing hedgerow trees.
EB1/2/8/9: Extend no-cutting period into August for basic hedgerow management
options.
EB1/3/8/10: Non-eligibility of roadside hedges for two-sided hedgerow management
options.
Set-aside
The mandatory EU requirement for a percentage of agricultural land to be taken
out of food production was introduced in 1992 as a means of limiting overproduction in response to high support prices – the so-called grain mountains. It
was not intended as an environmental measure, not least because set-aside land
could still be intensively cropped for bio-fuels.
In practice most farmers took the opportunity either to operate rotational fallow,
or to put into longer term set-aside parts of their land which were less productive
or difficult to cultivate. Over time both approaches have yielded real benefits,
in terms of biodiversity and resource protection and on a scale much wider than
more specific measures.
With the decoupling of price support under the 2003 CAP reforms and the
progressive alignment of EU and world markets, the rationale for set-aside as a
production control mechanism has come under increasing pressure. The review
had therefore planned to look at steps that could be taken to mitigate its possible
abolition in the next stage of CAP reform (the 2008 Health Check). But, in the
summer of 2007, in response to very tight market conditions, the EU decided on
a 0% rate for set-aside for the 2007/08 growing season, effectively giving farmers
the freedom to make their own cropping decisions on all their land (see Section
2.2.2).
This has raised the profile of the issue very considerably, but does not of itself alter
the scope for action under ES, which is inevitably constrained both by the resources
available and the voluntary nature of the scheme, which means that any offsetting
measures can only apply to those new agreement holders who wish to take them
on. There are also issues of scale and timing which limit the contribution that ES
can make. Other action is therefore likely to be needed as part of the CAP Health
Check decisions and work on this is being taken forward separately.
continued overleaf
45
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Set-aside (continued)
The review has, however, identified a number of ways in which some of the key
benefits could be preserved, including:
• wildlife seed mixtures – increased area per farm, improved management
requirements – to provide increased delivery of food (seed) over the winter;
• skylark plots – increased area of each plot – to improve spring/summer nesting
habitats
• unharvested conservation headlands – better management to increase seed
providing plants – to provide increased delivery of food over the winter.
• enhanced over-wintered stubbles – better management requirements (to follow
a spring crop, delayed drilling dates) – to provide increased food for birds over
the winter.
• fallow plots – possible new option, dependent upon research for larger plots
(up to 2ha) with improved management in spring preceding fallow – for species
other than skylarks such as lapwing and yellow wagtail.
New and amended resource protection options outlined in 6.1.5
6.1.4 Farmland birds Sub-group
122. The sub-group was formed because of the importance of farmland birds, which are seen
as a surrogate for the general health of biodiversity in the wider countryside, and because
populations are influenced by a wider variety of ES options which cut across the workstreams
formed. The Government has an ongoing SR04 PSA target to reverse the decline in farmland
birds in England by 2020 (a commitment reinforced by the use of wild bird populations as the
biodiversity indicator in the new ‘healthy natural environment’ PSA 28). In addition, farmland
birds are important in their own right as 29 of the 59 birds that appear on the revised UK BAP
priority species list are associated with agricultural habitats.
123. It is well accepted that the dramatic recent declines in farmland bird populations have
been driven by reductions in the quality and quantity of their nesting and feeding habitats as a
result of agricultural intensification. ES is the main delivery mechanism by which the declines in
farmland birds can be reversed by improving the extent and quality of wildlife habitats available
on agricultural land. Whilst it is too early to evaluate the impact of ES on bird populations at
a national level, the Review of Progress is able to make a number of recommendations that
should increase the effectiveness of the scheme, and especially ELS, for farmland birds. These
recommendations are based upon three sources of evidence: the current pattern uptake of the
different options; improvements to the evidence-base since the scheme was designed, and the
experience of NE and stakeholders. A further consideration is the expected loss of set-aside
which, although variable in terms of quality as a bird habitat, is known to have provided nest
sites and year-round foraging habitats for many of the declining species.
46
Chapter 6: Scheme effectiveness – evaluating solutions and recommendations
124. The key recommendations relating to farmland birds are for changes to ELS rather than
HLS options.
Key Recommendations:
EF3/4/9/10 etc: Modify prescriptions for key arable options already in ELS
(e.g. wildlife seed mixtures, skylark plots, conservation headlands)
EB1/2/8/9: Extend no cutting period into August for basic hedgerow management
options.
New options: New arable options in ELS (e.g. enhanced stubbles, summer fallows).
New options: Subject to the results of research, new grassland options in ELS
(e.g. leaving silage to set seed).
6.1.5 Resource Protection Workstream
125. Many options that benefit resource protection can deliver more if implemented at a
catchment or sub-catchment scale. Therefore, ELS, with its extensive uptake, is potentially an
important mechanism for the delivery of resource protection. Currently there are limited options
specifically designed to provide resource protection benefits. In addition, it is difficult to assess
the contribution of resource protection benefits from wider ELS options due to uncertainties
over the placement of options.
Key Recommendations:
New options: Consider/develop new options or capital items to reduce risk of soil
erosion and run-off, such as temporary or permanent vegetative buffers.
New options: Develop capital items/options for protection against wind erosion.
EJ1: Remove EJ1 (Management of high erosion risk cultivated land).
EG5: Remove EG5 (Management of brassica fodder crops followed by over-wintered
stubbles).
New options: Develop new options for wide grass buffer strips (both riparian
and in-field), maintenance of riparian fencing and for enhanced management of
maize.
Consider ways of building on the benefits that management plans options previously
offered, in a way that adds value to ELS.
6.1.6 Combined Options
126. Combining scheme options, in a similar way to the existing EB8-10 combined hedge and
ditch management options, offers a potential route to:
• Achieve a better balance of options in agreements by linking specific options together.
47
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• Address specific objectives which require a range of interventions together on a site, e.g.
provision of bird feeding and nesting sites.
• Help to mitigate the loss of rotational set-aside land and, hence, the provision of nesting,
summer foraging and winter foraging habitats for widespread, declining farmland bird
species such as skylark24 25 26.
127. There is evidence that combining certain options could help in delivering a few specific
objectives. These are outlined below:
128. Arable Birds. Placing options that deliver nesting habitat and summer foraging resources
in the same field, and winter foraging resources in the same agreement, will maximise the delivery
of the scheme for skylark, yellowhammer, reed bunting, grey partridge and linnet. In addition, it
will also provide some of the resources required by tree sparrow, corn bunting and kestrel, and
be beneficial to other biodiversity that inhabit or move through farmed habitats. The most likely
combination would be EB1/EB2 (hedge management one side) plus EE3 (6m buffer) and one or
more of: EF2 (wildbird seed mix), EF4 (nectar mix), EF6 (enhanced stubble), EF8 skylark plots),
EF10 (unharvested fertiliser-free headland) or EF11 (uncropped cultivated margin).
129.Grassland Birds. Many of the existing arable options are needed in grassland areas to
provide the support for farmland bird species, but uptake is currently low. This could be for
several reasons, but a major hurdle to adoption may be the difficulty and cost incurred in
keeping the option areas separate from the grazing animals in the grass field (not a problem
in cut-only systems). There is recent evidence27 to suggest that large benefits for birds can be
gained by maintaining a taller habitat structure at the edge of the field next to the hedgerow/
wall. These margin areas could use the grass field vegetation or be a sown area for wildbird
seed mix or nectar mix for invertebrates. For grassland birds an option where existing bird
habitat options are combined with a fencing capital option to allow these areas to be protected
from grazing would be beneficial.
130.Plants. A combined option to extend the field area under management that is receiving
no inputs, to support the potential for rare plant communities to increase in size would be
beneficial.
• A combination of EF11/EF10. A no fertiliser uncropped conservation headland with a more
open crop structure adjacent to uncropped margin may extend rare plant population into
the in-field areas.
• EF11/EG1. Undersown spring cereals with reduced fertiliser and herbicide inputs would give
an open crop structure adjacent to an uncropped margin which may extend the rare plant
population into the in-field areas.
• EF11/EB3. Limiting the size of the hedge through Enhanced Hedgerow Management would
reduce the shading impact on the adjacent uncropped cultivated margin.
24 Henderson,
I G, Cooper, J, Fuller, R J, Vickery, J 2000a. The relative abundance of birds on set-aside and neighbouring fields in summer.
Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 335-347.
25 Buckingham D L, Evans D, Morris A J, Orsman C J, Yaxley R. 1999. Use of set-aside land in winter by declining farmland bird species in
the UK. Bird Study 46: 157-169.
26 Aebischer, N J, Green, R E, Evans, A D 2000. From science to recovery: four case studies of how research has been translated into
conservation action in the UK. In Ecology & Conservation of Lowland Farmland Birds, pp 43-54. Eds N J Aebischer, A D Evans, P V Grice
and J A Vickery. Tring: British Ornithologists’ Union.
27 IGER – Potential for enhancing biodiversity on intensive livestock farms (PEBIL) (2007) Report to Defra BD1444.
48
Chapter 6: Scheme effectiveness – evaluating solutions and recommendations
131. Evidence to support potential option combinations that could be used to address other
issues, e.g. resource protection (including capital items, to extend the protection offered to
high-risk sites), climate change (options to link-up isolated habitats) is less readily available and
further work needs to be done to develop this.
132.Conclusions: Combined options offer a potentially effective way to develop more targeted
option packages that address specific issues. A range of beneficial option combinations already
occur, albeit at a relatively low level, in existing ELS agreements. It is unlikely that the provision
of new combined options, in addition to the existing options, would significantly change
behaviour without additional advice and/or a split list approach and/or a degree of points
rebalancing/payment rate review which would make the combined option more attractive
than its constituent parts. A number of potentially beneficial combined options would also
be predicated on the addition of new options to the scheme as a result of other review
recommendations e.g. other new ELS options and ELS capital items. There is significantly more
evidence to support combinations of options for birds than for other areas.
133. There is scope to develop very sophisticated combinations of options to address specific
issues/species requirements (e.g. Turtle Doves, Stone Curlew), however, these are probably
better addressed through the provision of targeted advice for ELS and through HLS.
Recommendation: Natural England should develop and implement a small number
of new combined options which based on existing evidence have the potential
for widespread environmental benefit (i.e. they are not highly species/location
specific).
Recommendation: Existing evidence on environmentally beneficial management
combinations should be reviewed and further research commissioned as necessary.
6.2 Changes to HLS options to improve effectiveness
134. A range of revisions and changes to existing HLS options and suggested new options,
including evidence supporting these changes and a summary of associated stakeholder views,
are outlined in a spreadsheet at Appendix 11.7. A summary of the detailed recommendations
and the category they fall into is at Appendix 11.3. A brief summary of the key changes
proposed by each workstream follows.
Overall Recommendation: The about 80 detailed changes to HLS options outlined
in Appendix 11.3 should be implemented by NE with input from EA, FC and EH
where necessary. These are:
• changes to existing options and prescriptions to improve the scheme and resolve
minor issues – the majority fall into this category;
• a small number of changes to make existing options and prescriptions more
demanding;
• about 30 changes to make existing options and prescriptions more flexible
(including 20 relating to the FEP); and
• a number of new options.
49
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
6.2.1 Grassland Workstream
135. HLS options are recognised as being very flexible and can be tailored successfully for most
circumstances but there is inconsistency in implementation within and between regions. There
are also a number of gaps, for example high-value ditches in non-priority habitats, and cases
of low uptake, such as for most of the inland wetland options.
Key Recommendations:
Add historic prescriptions/‘Indicators of Success’ to coastal options.
Extend the shepherding supplement to relevant lowland options.
Bog and fen options – consider higher payments and/or longer agreements.
Revise definitions and HLS FEP condition of moorland features to bring them
into line with new UK BAP priority habitats and Common Standards Monitoring
condition assessment guidance.
6.2.2 Arable Workstream
136. The current options deliver the required outcomes and are flexible in accommodating
most arable circumstances, with very few changes to prescriptions needed. A two year option
to combine stubbles and fallows is seen as an important gap to cover.
Key Recommendations:
Limiting cultivation type, under the reduce cultivation depth, to non-inversion –
this will aid more effective protection of archaeology.
Allow part field cultivation under the fodder crop management to retain or recreate
an arable mosaic option – this will allow wider uptake in mixed farming areas.
6.2.3 Field Boundary, Orchards and Woodland Workstream
137. The current suite of options is flexible and can be tailored successfully for most
circumstances, with the exception of the Lowland wood pasture options which do not currently
meet the management requirements of Upland wood pasture. However, a number of gaps
have been identified in the suite of capital items.
Key Recommendations:
Consider developing a new suite of options for management, restoration and
creation of Upland wood pasture.
Investigate possible new capital items for the identification of fruit trees, additional
type of orchard tree guard, and establishment of new earth banks.
50
Chapter 6: Scheme effectiveness – evaluating solutions and recommendations
Resource Protection
Agriculture is one of the main sources of diffuse pollution. Exact contributions vary
from place to place but typically farming gives rise to around 75% of sediment, 60%
of nitrate, 25 to 50% of faecal indicator organisms and 20 to 40% of phosphate
pollution to surface waters28. This pollution, especially nitrate, frequently affects
groundwater too. Diffuse pollution can result from poor management of soil,
manures, nutrients and crop protection products. However, it can also be a side
effect of normal, responsible, agricultural production. Reducing the risk of diffuse
pollution requires thought and sometimes special effort. Some locations are so
sensitive that even very careful management might result in too high a risk. ES
was designed to help address this issue and options were included in the scheme
with this in mind alongside other tools such as the England Catchment Sensitive
Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI).
The European Commission’s insistence that ES cannot be used to deliver standards
required by legislation (e.g. the Nitrates Directive) has, however, necessitated a
re-think of the options available, including removal of the management plans
previously eligible for ELS points.
A number of new options are being developed to improve the contribution of ES
to resource protection. These include:
A 12m riparian buffer strip option and a possible 12m non-riparian strip in ELS;
An enhanced maize management option in ELS;
A possible new cover crops option in ELS;
Possible shelterbelt options and new capital item options in HLS; and
The consideration of enhanced advice, split options lists and the inclusion of
capital items in ELS.
Work is also being taken forward as an early priority to see how a revised
management plan approach can add value and deliver benefits above baseline
requirements, so that a suitable new option can be devised. Further details can be
found at Annex 11.3.
A commitment has also been made to look at how the benefits the management
plans delivered could be built upon in a way that adds value to ES. This may result
in the development of a new option / options or changes to the Farm Environment
Record (FER).
6.2.4 Resource Protection Workstream28
138. Uptake of HLS specific resource protection options is low, with approximately 200
agreements covering 2,300 hectares. The workstream evaluated the barriers to uptake, and
reviewed all options and any potential conflicts with resource protection objectives.
28 Defra consultations on Nitrates Directive and Diffuse Water Pollution from Agriculture, August 2007.
51
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Key Recommendations:
Consider new capital items for resource protection, such as hard standing for
permanent water troughs.
Ensure capital items for livestock water provision are available.
Grip blocking – consider higher payments where targeted for resource protection
and flood management benefits.
Consider capital item/option for the protection against wind erosion.
Consider evidence from ADAS research project – Movement of phosphate and
sediment research (MOPS), and consider new options and capital items for tramline
management, and enhanced ditch management to buffer pollutants.
Improve targeting for resource protection and flood management as part of
targeting work.
6.2.5 Access Workstream
139. Although there have been a substantial number of detailed issues with ES access options,
these have related principally to the processes for delivery of educational access and access
for the less mobile by NE advisers. These issues have largely been addressed within two
recent evaluations29 and the recommendations from these evaluations are currently under
consideration by NE.
Key Recommendation: To implement, as appropriate, the recommendations from
the recent evaluations of access in ES.
6.2.6 Capping HLS payment rates
140. There is existing flexibility within HLS for NE advisers to negotiate option payment rates
within the specified payment rate ceilings, to reflect the individual site circumstances and
precise management requirements. There is a small number of management options, which
typically cover extensive areas, where operational experience suggests that there may be
economies of scale. However, there is currently no formal framework for reducing payment
rates in these circumstances.
Recommendation: NE should develop a framework to enable flexibility in HLS
option payment rates to be applied consistently.
29 ADAS
(2007) Evaluation of Educational Access under Defra agri-environment schemes. (MA01033) Evaluation of access for the less
mobile in agri-environment schemes (MA01032) Reports for Defra.
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Chapter 6: Scheme effectiveness – evaluating solutions and recommendations
Climate Change
Climate change is currently the most pressing environmental issue. Climate change
has not been an explicit objective of ES; however, a recommendation of the review
is to make climate change adaptation and mitigation an overarching theme of ES
to reflect the importance of the issue.
Research suggests that ES already makes a contribution to the reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. To build on this a further study has been
commissioned to examine whether changes need to be made to existing options to
further increase this contribution; and whether there are any new options which
could be added to primarily address climate change mitigation. Emerging results
from this study suggests that the review recommendations aimed at increasing the
contribution to resource protection will have a positive impact on greenhouse gas
emissions but that further research will be necessary into various techniques before
new options could be added. Therefore it is suggested that the first immediate step
should be to use ES to increase awareness and understanding amongst land owners
of climate change issues; and to ensure that maximum use is made of any strategic
changes to ELS to increase the climate change contribution. (See Annex 11.3 for full
details of the climate change mitigation recommendations.)
ELS should play a major role in the adaptation of the natural environment to a
changing climate simply through its widespread nature. HLS can also play a role in
protecting and enhancing existing areas of high environmental value and reducing
their fragmentation. NE have a programme to build climate change adaptation
into their work, including ES. (Further details are at section 5.7.)
6.3 Climate Change and ES Options.
141. Following a study30 which demonstrates that ES in its current form makes a contribution
to climate change mitigation, further work has been commissioned to analyse current ES
options (including proposed changes from the review) and recommend changes that would
increase their climate change mitigation impact; based upon existing research, propose any
new ES options; suggest further research to help increase the climate change mitigation impact
of ES in future. The study is due to be completed in the spring though, emerging results
suggest that the review recommendations aiming to increase the contribution of ES to resource
protection will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. However it seems unlikely
that any techniques are sufficiently developed to enable new climate change mitigation options
to be added to ES in the short term.
142. In terms of adaptation, ELS has the most potential to assist in the adaptation of the natural
environment to climate change because of its wide coverage. For example, by improving habitat
quality in the wider countryside, ELS should make it easier for species to migrate in the face of
the changing climate. The role of HLS is to maintain and restore areas of high environmental
quality, including those which act as important carbon stores, such as peat. It is important to
ensure that areas of high quality are in good condition so that the features can cope with the
30 Warner
(2007) University of Hertfordshire study – Research into the current and potential climate change mitigation effects of
Environmental Stewardship (BD2302).
53
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
changing climate. However, there is a question about the degree to which it is value for money
to continue to spend resources protecting features which may not be able to survive in their
current location in the face of a changing climate.
143. The work on targeting agreements optimally (see section 7.5) and training, awareness
raising and advice will help ensure that climate change adaptation needs are taken into
account as far as possible in choosing and locating ES options. In addition, NE is working to
develop and coordinate the delivery of climate change adaptation strategies for the natural
environment by:
• Developing an evidence-based framework to the assessment of risk and vulnerability of the
natural environment to climate change;
• Implementing agreed principles for a comprehensive adaptation strategy for the natural
environment and biodiversity;
• Improving the science base to deliver climate change adaptation through enhancing the
connectivity and permeability of habitats and landscapes;
• Developing and piloting adaptation strategies for the natural environment through
demonstration projects in four discrete landscape areas.
Recommendations:
Working with Defra, NE should:
• Make better use of ES as a tool to raise awareness and understanding of climate
change in the agricultural sector.
• Make appropriate changes to ES to further reduce the contribution of agriculture
to climate change (Following an assessment being carried out by expert contractors
of current ES options and potential climate change mitigation measures).
• Contribute to the development of any strategic changes to ES to ensure that
the climate change mitigation impact is maximised and to ensure that incentives
provided for land management through ES actively contribute to the delivery of
climate change adaptation strategies.
• Contribute to the development of any new measure designed to build on the
environmental benefits offered by the management plan options, so that the
measure makes a contribution to climate change issues.
54
7
S cheme design and process – evaluating
solutions and recommendations
7.1 ELS – Advice and Training
144. ELS was designed to be a ‘hands-off’ scheme, with little in the way of advice or training
for land managers applying for the scheme or during their agreement. In practice, this has
meant providing:
• a self-explanatory scheme handbook
• a guidance note, ‘Making the most of your options’, with the handbook suggesting
‘important’ options within each JCA
• a telephone helpline manned by largely administrative staff to deal with routine queries
• an initial series of promotional/awareness raising events run by Defra/RDS staff following the
launch of the scheme
• an on-going conservation advice programme managed by RDS/NE in which ADAS and FWAG
run farm walks, workshops, etc – this initially focused mainly on promotion/awareness
raising but more recently also on ‘best practice’
145. The ELS format is, however, a fundamental change to the way agri-environment schemes
operate and there is now increasing evidence that some degree of additional advice and
support will be needed if ELS is to be successful in delivering our desired outcomes, in terms of
increasing scheme uptake, ensuring options are taken up which address the local environmental
priorities and are then located optimally on the holding, and are managed effectively during
the agreement. Three potential areas for intervention can be identified:
• Targeted promotion/awareness raising.
• Influencing option choice.
• Management best practice.
7.1.1 Targeted promotion/awareness raising.
146. To-date promotion has generally been effective in encouraging land managers to enter
ELS. Indeed:
• data from ADAS have indicated that around 25% of the 6,619 land managers attending
its promotional events have applied for ELS within three months as a direct result of
attending31.
• data from an independent evaluation by Databuild32 have shown that ADAS and FWAG
events have been effective at encouraging farmers to apply for ELS, with about 40% of
event attendees having since joined the scheme or being in the process of doing so.
147. For OELS, the uptake picture is different. Approx. 70% of the area in England under
organic management is in OELS (207,000ha from a total of 296,000ha). However, it is clear
from the Databuild evaluation that promotion of OELS on the same basis as ELS will not provide
the necessary impetus to drive conversion to organic farming in order to achieve the OELS
target of 340,000ha under organic management in OELS by December 2007. OELS uptake
currently stands at 61%.
31 32 (2007) Evaluation of Defra Conservation Advice Programme. Report for Defra (Unpublished).
Databuild (2007) Evaluation of Defra Conservation Advice Programme. Report for Defra (Unpublished).
55
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
148. It is also clear from the evidence33,34,41 that the level of ELS uptake is not consistent across
all regions and sectors and that a lack of understanding of the scheme, particularly by upland
farmers, but also by the dairy and livestock sector more generally, is proving a barrier to uptake
of both the scheme and option choice in some cases. In addition, as with any new scheme,
those who have joined so far are the so-called ‘pioneers’ and a different approach may be
needed to persuade those who have not yet applied.
149. In the case of the uplands, a study by ADAS35 as part of their advice contract for NE,
found that upland farmers gave the same reasons for not joining ELS as lowland ones (e.g.
insufficient time to apply, financial benefits too low, need more face-face help in putting an
application together and application too long and complicated). However, they had a lower
understanding and confidence in ELS than lowland farmers. But, after attending events they
were as likely, if not more likely, to apply for ELS (although, many would like still further advice
before applying).
150. Similarly, the ELS upland evaluation38 concluded that:
• There was no lack of interest in entering the scheme among upland farmers, but those in the
LFA and particularly those in SDA perceived that they did not have enough suitable features
on their land to meet their points targets.
• Many of the perceived barriers to ELS entry in the uplands were in fact due to misconceptions
or lack of knowledge about the scheme and, for most interviewees, there was in fact no
major difficulty in reaching their points target.
• Many farmers had not fully read and understood the scheme booklets (only 30-50% had
read the handbook compared to around 90% generally).
151. Both studies concluded that in order to encourage uptake among upland farmers, advice
events held in upland areas should be tailored to meet the needs of land managers in the
area by focussing on options likely to be suitable for their farm types. ADAS also suggested
that providing clearer signposting to, and encouraging the use of, information sources such
as NE/other advisers or the ELS handbook could be important in increasing the chance that
upland farmers receive the additional support they require. CSL recommended that, where
appropriate, consideration should be given to providing this additional support in the form of
a short 1:1 farm visit (one hour duration).
152. It was envisaged that transfer rates from former ESA and CSS agreements to ELS would be very
high, at around 90%. However, data suggests a much lower transfer rate (below 30%, see Section
5.8), particularly from former ESAs. Initial investigations by regions suggest that former ESA and CSS
agreement holders seem to require a level of ‘handholding’ when applying for ELS.
153. Thus, it is clear that more targeted promotion and support will be needed to ensure that
(a) coverage of the ELS continues to increase (b) it is more evenly distributed between regions
and sectors and (c) transfer rates from CSS and ESAs increase substantially. This will become
even more important if commodity prices remain high. Awareness raising/promotion events may
also need to be targeted at other influencers in the agricultural sector, e.g. agronomists, etc.
33 Central Science Laboratory (2007) Evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship. Report to Defra MA01028.
Science Laboratory (2007) An evaluation of the relative difficulty encountered by Upland and lowland grassland farmers in
entering ELS. Report to Defra MA01038.
35 Databuild (2007) Evaluation of Defra Conservation Advice Programme (Unpublished).
34 Central
56
Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
7.1.2 Influencing option choice.
154. If ELS/OELS is to achieve its intended outcomes, it not only needs to be taken up widely,
but options also need to be located appropriately (i.e. agreements in priority areas and uptake
of appropriate options within those agreements to address the priority features concerned).
Currently, the main way in which NE influences option choice is via the ‘Making the most
of your options’ guidance note for each JCA.36 However, CSL found that although most ELS
participants referred to these notes, less than half found them useful and only seven options
(of 1944) were chosen because the guidance note suggested it.
155. In contrast, where face-to-face geographically-tailored advice on option uptake was
available, this had a significant influence on option choice. For example, spatial analysis of
option uptake in relation to water quality showed high uptake of relevant options in the
Wensum catchment, one of 4 pilot areas for the Defra Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF)
Delivery Initiative, where project officers promoted management to minimise risks of soil
erosion and run-off. A similar situation was found for rare arable flora and occurrence of
yellowhammers and skylarks. CSL concluded that, ‘It appears that options are to some extent
being targeted to areas where they are most appropriate, and at least for diffuse pollution
and arable flora, it seems probable that local advisory programmes had some influence on
the observed distribution of options.’ CSL also recommended that ‘carefully targeted advice
provided through farmer meetings, farm walks, short visits from advisers, etc., as currently
provided by the Conservation Advice Programme, are likely to have more impact.’
156. Similar findings were reported by the NFU from a survey of its members37 carried out
to feed into the ES Review of Progress. When asked what would be most likely to encourage
farmers to take up in-field options, such as skylark plots, changes such as improved management
guidance, offering locally targeted compatible options (or menus) and the provision of more
local advice were identified by 30%, 27% and 22%, respectively, as factors that would
positively influence their uptake. (NB: Over 50% stated that greater point allocation would be
important to them.)
157. CSL also found that a relatively large proportion (37%) of ELS applications were completed
by a third party and suggested that this may result in options being located inappropriately in
terms of intended outcomes and may mean that the land manager does not fully understand
the requirements of the agreement. They suggested that more advice at the pre-application
stage may encourage more individuals to complete their own application.
158. Similar findings were reported in the ELS pilot area evaluation38, with CSL highlighting problems
with accuracy of agreement maps and missed opportunities with regard to option uptake. Of the 80
farms surveyed to evaluate accuracy of mapping and assess possible lost opportunities:
• 43% of ELS pilot agreement-holders had mapping inaccuracies (including habitats omitted
and incorrectly marked); and
• 25% had identified habitats and features which could have been entered into the scheme
but were not.
36 RSPB,
in association with the University of Hertfordshire, has also produced a CD entitled ‘Planning your ELS application’ which has been
particularly popular with intermediaries (agents) because it allows them to explore the various combinations of options that may be used
to secure the necessary points. ELS-online also has this facility.
37 NFU (2007) Written communication to Defra.
38 Central Science Laboratory (2004) Evaluation of the Pilot Entry Level Agri-Environment Scheme. Report to Defra ER02004.
57
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
159. The ELS Pilot evaluation made various references to the need for advice for applicants
and agreement holders, particularly noting the importance of retaining the equivalent of Pilot
Area Co-ordinators in the national scheme as a source of informed local advice and guidance.
The importance of signposting farmers to a named local person as a source of further help and
guidance has also been highlighted by several other studies. If that person were to be in NE,
they could also play an important role in influencing option choice within their area.
160. Therefore, in defining advice needs for the future, consideration needs to be given to
how to influence option uptake more effectively. This will be particularly important from 2010
onwards when ELS/OELS agreement holders start to renew their agreements. Encouragingly,
the CSL evaluation reports that 37% of ELS and 47% of OELS participants have already decided
to renew their agreements.
7.1.3 Management best practice.
161. CSL found that ELS participants generally did not feel that further on-going advice was
needed to help them manage their agreements. Indeed, when questioned about individual
options, participants indicated that further advice would be required for only 7% of options
chosen (mainly management plans). However, evidence from baseline survey interviews
suggested that features were not always being managed according to the prescriptions and
that some farmers were either unaware of what was required or were carrying on what
they thought was required without questioning what they were being asked to do. CSL
recommended that further support was needed to ensure that agreements were delivered
correctly, and suggested that this could perhaps take the form of additional meetings or a
summary of the management requirements tailored to individuals.
162. Further evidence of the need for best practice advice is as follows:
• ‘Best practice’ events run by ADAS and FWAG in which existing ELS/OELS agreement
holders have been invited along to discuss practical management issues have been heavily
oversubscribed in some regions, showing that there is a demand for further on-going
support
• The NFU survey reported that ELS participants had difficulty in establishing wild cover crops
and wanted more practical advice.
• The RELU ‘FarmCat’ project39 has also clearly demonstrated that training events for ELS
agreement holders improve their understanding of the management of options and, hence,
maximises the delivery of ELS outcomes.
163. Therefore, there is a need to increase the current level of best practice guidance being
provided.
7.1.4 Delivery mechanisms.
164. CSL found that ELS participants were generally satisfied with the provision of advice.
However, telephone advice was rated as poor by 23% and the helpline by 35% of ELS
participants (though there were significant improvements in the quality of advice over time).
39 58
RELU http://www.ceh.ac.uk/farmcat/
Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
The website was used by a greater proportion of participants in August 2006 compared to
August 2005 and the quality also improved over time. However, the proportion using it was
still relatively low (28% in August 2006). CSL noted that access to informed Defra/NE advice
over the telephone was considered most important in the future, often to clarify issues with
ELS in changing circumstances.
165. Databuild reported that of the delivery mechanisms used by ADAS and FWAG as part
of the Conservation Advice Programme, land managers preferred farm walks, demonstration
events and workshops to breakfast and lunch clubs. Any event that offered an opportunity for
a ‘hands-on’ approach seemed to be popular (72% of farmers were likely to attend a farm
walk in the future and 68% to attend a demonstration event), allowing farmers to look at the
management of options on the ground and therefore better inform them as to their suitability
for their farm. Databuild concluded that farm walks seemed to provide the best value for
money and recommended that they should continue to be the key delivery mechanism.
166. It is, however, clear that the ADAS and FWAG delivery mechanisms, notably OELS
promotional events have been much less effective in encouraging farmers into OELS, and
a different, more targeted, individually based approach is recommended in the Databuild
report.
7.1.5 Delivering future advice needs.
167. Based on the results of the CSL and other evaluations and NE’s experience of providing
advice to land managers, it is envisaged that future advice will continue to be delivered through
a variety of channels, including:
• Handbooks
• Web guidance
• Articles in farming press
• Farm walks (and other group events)
• Clinics (e.g. at auction marts)
• 1:1 advice (e.g. via farm visits where appropriate)
• Telephone helpline
168. As is currently the case, this advice will need to be underpinned by cross-compliance
advice. However, it is clear from the work by CSL and others that more and better targeted
ELS/OELS advice will be needed to ensure that under-represented groups and sectors enter
the scheme, that applicants (and existing agreement holders on renewal) choose appropriate
options in relation to ELS/OELS outcomes and that agreement holders receive on-going advice
and guidance about managing their options. (For example, 1:1 OELS advice based on the
Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS) model could be appropriate. Although OCIS
itself will not be a suitable vehicle, it could effectively signpost farmers to OELS advice.)
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
169. Based on the results of the evaluations, some initial ideas for how this could be achieved
are as follows:
Targeted promotion/awareness raising influencing
option uptake
General
Continue to provide advice
events for applicants,
ensuring that they are
tailored to meet the needs
of land managers and
advisers in an area/sector
by focusing on relevant
environmental priorities.
Make use of scientific/
behavioural evidence to
support advice initiatives.
Ensure written advice is
available, including on the
web, and that this advice
is clearly signposted.
Ensure land managers
know who to contact
within Natural England and
that they can receive clear
advice over the phone.
Provide training for
private and voluntary
sector intermediaries to
encourage them to deliver
quality applications.
Specific
Provide additional advice
events to support those
renewing their ELS/OELS
agreements to ensure high
renewal rate and influence
option choice and location
Provide additional support
(possibly in the form of 1:1
advisory visits) for:
– those considering
applying in priority target
areas or with priority
features (via clinics or short
1:1 farm visits to land
managers).
– CSS and ESA agreement
holders not receiving advice
from NE advisers to ensure
that public investment is
safeguarded (i.e. those
agreements not considered
a priority for HLS).
– HFA recipients currently
not in CSS and ESAs to
provide advice on entry to
Ensure better co-ordination UELS.
– OELS potential applicants
of advice with other
– since the uptake of OELS
providers (e.g. EA) and,
agreements is usually
in the longer term, build
coupled with substantial
greater capacity in the
business changes,
industry to reduce the
experience shows that group
amount of government
events are not effective and
funding required.
that 1:1 visits are needed.
Co-operate with other
advice providers (including (Clearly any such advisory
service would need to
EA).
be firmly integrated with
Ensure clear signposting
OCIS.).
from OCIS for OELS.
60
Best Practice
Produce a regular newsletter
with features on option
management/updates from
monitoring/R&D findings etc.
Commission articles in the
farming press on option
management.
Produce one or more
educational CDs or DVDs
covering the management
of more problematic/more
important options.
Recognise and reward good
practice e.g. annual farmer
awards.
Ensure land managers know
who to contact within Natural
England and that they can
receive clear advice over the
phone.
Require all agreement holders
to attend one best practice
event (probably in year 1 or
year 2 of their agreement).
Provide 1:1 advisory visits to
support the management of
more difficult options (e.g.
agreements with wild bird
mixtures, pollen and nectar
mixtures and uncropped
cultivated arable margins)
and, if adopted, capital items.
Provide other 1:1 advisory
visits in priority areas to
tackle specific management
problems; perhaps triggered
by request for advice via
helpline or farm walk (if costeffective).
Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
7.1.6 Provision of an Enhanced Programme of Advice.
170. Funding for ELS/OELS advice is provided through NE’s Conservation Advice Programme,
which is currently delivered by ADAS and FWAG and has a total budget of around £1.2 m per
annum.
171. NE are working to improve their delivery of in-house advice – it is envisaged that each
local land management team will have a member whose primary job it is to co-ordinate and
lead the delivery of advice to farmers, including ES advice. As part of this project, it is intended
to develop the extension skills of NE staff, to enable more direct delivery of advice to farmers
and other land managers. However, NE’s capacity to deliver more such advice in-house will
be dependent on sufficient staff resources being available as well as on the skills of front-line
staff.
172. Estimates suggest (see Appendix 11.5) that an increased budget of around £3-6 m per
annum would be needed to support an enhanced programme of advice. Although this is
significantly higher than the current budget (£1.2 m), this still equates to less than 4% of the
ELS/OELS budget.
173. Sources for this funding need to be investigated. One option would be to use part of the
ES budget. This would probably require a programme modification (taking at least 6 months)
but this could be done to enable this additional funding to be available from 2009/10, prior to
when the first ELS agreements will expire.
174. Conclusion. An expansion of existing capacity to provide advice and training to farmers
and other land managers is necessary if we are to achieve improved environmental outcomes
from ELS/OELS. Advice will also be of key importance in the uplands to support ELS in the SDA
and, from 2010, the launch of UELS. It will also be essential to safeguard the public investment
in CSS, ESA and ELS/OELS agreements by ensuring a high transfer/renewal rate.
Recommendation: Develop a significantly enhanced, geographically differentiated,
programme of advice to support ELS delivery and secure the funding necessary to
implement.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Geographic Targeting of ELS
At present ELS is a fairly uniform scheme nationally – the only attempt at
geographical targeting is through the availability of a number of options solely
available in the LFAs and the distribution of guidance notes to potential applicants
explaining the environmental priorities of the JCA in which they farm and
suggesting the key options for addressing these priorities. Evidence suggests that
these have little impact on option choice at the JCA level, although there is some
limited evidence to suggest more optimal location of selected options at the farm/
field scale. ELS could deliver better value for money if the optimum options to
address the local environmental priorities were more widely taken up. The review
has identified various ways of achieving this including:
–A
dvice with a strong element of geographic targeting is a cost effective and
highly flexible mechanism to achieve a better fit of ELS options with field, farm
and JCA level environmental priorities and has been shown to be effective.
–A
review of the existing geographical targeting guidance for ELS to identify ways
that this can be made more effective.
– A range of scheme structural changes including:
– S cope for a geographically/sectorally differentiated split list approach. This has
the potential to identify a geographically specific list of options which must
constitute a specified proportion of agreement points and will help farmers
choose more balanced packages of management options.
– An enhanced, geographically targeted, ELS scheme.
–A
ssessing the extent to which Income Foregone/additional costs varies sectorally/
geographically and considering scope for differentiated payment rates.
– F urther evaluation of geographically differentiated approaches to delivering
better geographical literacy within ELS.
–A
dditionally uplands ELS has the potential to be a test bed for both bespoke
geographic differentiation within ELS.
7.2 ELS – Scheme Structural Change.
7.2.1 Split Lists.
175. Split lists have been identified as a possible approach to adjusting the balance of options
within agreements, for example between boundaries and in-field options and also (when
incorporating a geographic dimension) as an approach to address the fit of options with the
environmental priorities of an area. Split list approaches can be broadly categorised into three
types as follows:
• Single Criteria Splits.
• Multiple Criteria Splits.
• Split lists incorporating a Geographic Component.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
176. One of the key advantages of a split list approach is the ability to model (reasonably
accurately) the numbers of agreements affected by different list structures and points
thresholds. The modelling included here is based on ELS agreements as at 1 December 2007
(excluding OELS). It does not reflect any changes as a result of other strands of the review and
RDPE changes (e.g. changes to ELS options as a result of other review recommendations and
removal of management plan options as a result of RDPE approval). The analysis of different
approaches and associated option lists provided here is for illustrative purposes only.
177. Single Criteria Split Lists. Potentially the simplest approach to split lists, two alternatives
emerge:
• A maximum proportion of agreement points from a given group of options (e.g. boundary
options, most popular options).
• A minimum proportion of agreement points from a given group of options (e.g. in-field
options, less popular options).
Advantages
Relatively simple for applicants, although
capping (of boundary management
options) was not implemented despite the
recommendation in the ELS pilot evaluation
because it was considered to add too much
complexity to the scheme in the light of
comments from the ‘post pilot’ survey. The
CSL report suggests that “responses to
participant questionnaires suggested that
most applicants did not find the application
process too onerous, so a small increase in
complexity would probably be unlikely to
put them off.”
Disadvantages
Maximum approaches depend on
redistribution of points elsewhere but no
control over this.
Only addresses balance of options within
agreement, and may only address specific
balance e.g. in-field boundary.
Thresholds for proportion of points may
be very sensitive and could have major
impact on uptake if set too low/high. One
size fits all, optimum balance likely to
vary geographically have to set at lowest
common denominator (see later analysis).
Does not address fit of agreements with
The inclusion of capital items as scheme
options would necessitate some sort of cap/ geographic priorities.
split list approach to ensure that agreements
were not solely comprised of capital items.
178. Multiple Criteria Split Lists. A range of more complex split list approaches have been
suggested. These include:
• Lists based on extent of active management required (e.g. maximum 50% points from
group 1, minimum 30% points from group 2 and minimum 20% points from group 3).
• Lists based around themed/functional groups of options.
• Lists based around options grouped by scheme objectives.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Advantages
Potential to ensure balance of options
across all agreements.
Multiple lists allow wider balance of options
issues to be addressed more flexibly.
Existing agreement uptake data allows
modelling of potential impacts and ability to
set thresholds accordingly.
Disadvantages
Potentially more complex for applicants.
In the post – Pilot’ study conclusions/
recommendations ‘split lists’ approaches
were considered to be too complex/
confusing by a significant proportion of
those polled & nearly 50% thought farmers
in their area would be put off from applying
for ELS.
A small-scale study by the Red Meat
Industry Forum also showed that many
applicants wouldn’t apply if ELS was more
complex/demanding.
Thresholds for proportion of points from
each list may be very sensitive and could
have a major impact on uptake if set too
low/high. One size fits all – the optimum
balance is likely to vary geographically,
therefore have to set at lowest common
denominator (see later analysis).
Doesn’t address fit of agreements with
geographic priorities.
179. Split Lists with a Geographic Component. These can be further sub-divided:
180. Single Criteria Geographic.
• A minimum proportion of agreement points from a geographically specific high priority list.
• A geographically differentiated points threshold.
181. Multiple Criteria with a Geographic Component.
• Hybrid approach combining national and geographically specific lists (e.g. maximum 50%
points from group 1, minimum 30% points from group 2 and minimum 20% points from
group 3 – geographically specific).
182. Area-based Multiple Criteria Split Lists.
• Develop fully tailored split lists for specific areas.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
Advantages
Disadvantages
Potential to address fit of agreements
with geographic priorities in addition to
overall balance of options, especially in
combination with multiple lists.
More complex for applicants, especially
where multiple split lists are involved, and
potential for major boundary issues where
holdings span multiple areas.
Available data allows accurate modelling
of impacts and thresholds can be set
accordingly.
Thresholds for proportion of points from
each list may be very sensitive and could
have major impact on uptake if set too low/
high.
Establishing the appropriate points
thresholds for different geographic areas
could prove very complex and resource
intensive.
183. Single Criteria Geographic.
• A minimum proportion of agreement points from a geographically specific high priority list.
• Geographically specific points thresholds.
184. The current JCA based targeting statements provide a starting point from which to assess
the extent to which uptake reflects identified targets. Overall the position is good with the
majority of points in nearly all JCAs being scored against priority options (max. 87%) (Annex
11.6). However, this does disguise significant variability:
• Many of the targeting statements identify a high number of the scheme options as specific
targets (max. 51, min. 10 out of 63) – about 25% identify over half the scheme options as
targets.
• A large proportion of target options identified within the targeting statements have very
low uptake – consistently two thirds of target options in all JCAs each scored less than 1%
of all the points scored in that JCA.
185. On this basis a single split list based on a priority options list would appear to have
limited potential unless the number of options targeted is more limited and perhaps focused
on where change is required rather than maintenance of existing widespread features – such
as boundaries and low input grassland, unless they are very specific priorities for a given JCA.
186. An alternative approach would involve setting geographically specific thresholds, for
example for the maximum proportion of points from boundary options. There is significant
geographic variability in the proportion of points scored against different options – for example
the average proportion of points scored on boundary features is 33% but at JCA level this
varies from 5% in the Quantock Hills to 68% in The Lizard (see map below). Potentially this
is a more targeted and flexible approach, however, it does introduce a significant additional
complexity where holdings span multiple areas, especially as JCA boundaries themselves aren’t
‘hard’ boundaries.
65
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
187. Multiple Criteria with a Geographic Component. This would be quite complex requiring
a national list framework supplemented with an additional geographic priority list. The amount
of development required would be heavily dependent on the geographic scale adopted, JCAs
would appear the most meaningful but would entail a considerable amount of work.
188. Area-based Multiple Criteria Split Lists. Developing this approach would be incredibly
complex and would require a huge amount of development and testing, especially if a fine
geographic scale, such as JCA, was adopted.
189. Conclusion. Split list approaches have considerable potential to address both issues
of the balance of option uptake within ELS and helping to ensure that the scheme delivers
the best pattern of option uptake to deliver the environmental priorities of an area. The key
strengths and weaknesses of this approach can be summarised as follows:
66
Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
190. Key Strengths:
• Existing data allows scope for quite accurate modelling and testing of the likely impact of
the application of different list structures and would allow thresholds to be set accordingly
to minimise impact on scheme uptake.
• Geographical approaches allow fine grain tailoring and cater for significant variability in
patterns of uptake between JCAs.
191. Key Weaknesses:
• The additional complexity for applicants associated with all but the simplest split list
approaches could have a major impact on scheme uptake.
• Developing the make-up of lists that are fit for purpose nationally, given the significant
geographic variability in patterns of option uptake, is potentially challenging especially for
more complex approaches.
• Cost of developing and implementing.
Recommendation: Develop and test a simple single-split list approach (including
national, geographic and sectoral alternatives) based on a minimum specified
proportion of agreement points coming from 1 or more options on the list.
Recommendation: The existing geographical targeting guidance for ELS, including
the JCA based targeting statements, should be reviewed to explore ways that it can
be made more effective. This review should be linked to the ongoing development
work on map-based targeting for ES.
7.2.2 Adjusting Option Points Allocations.
192. The principle established for ELS is that points allocations will be set at 100% income
foregone unless there is clear justification for doing otherwise. The relative allocation of points
to options is something that was raised during the ELS pilot study40. Subsequently the points
allocations for a number of options, mainly boundary options, were reduced for the roll-out
of ELS (typically by about 20%). However, this coincided with the introduction of the Single
Payment Scheme and decoupling of farm subsidy payments which necessitated revision of the
income foregone calculations for all options. There was concern that significantly reducing the
points for boundary options at the same time as reductions to infield options (as a result of
decoupling) would make ELS unattractive to farmers generally and have a serious effect on
uptake.
193. Those options with significant points reductions e.g. stone walls, EL6, 2m buffer strips,
from the ELS Pilot were made because of concerns over value for money and/or additionality
and/or attempting to promote uptake of more beneficial options from within an option group
e.g. this is particularly the case for 2m buffer strips, where the lower percentage allocation for
2m as opposed to 4/6m strips which were considered to provide more environmental benefit.
40 Central Science Laboratory (2004) Evaluation of the Pilot Entry Level Agri-Environment Scheme. Report to Defra (ER02004).
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
194. There is little evidence about the effectiveness of changing points allocations. The
changes in allocations between the ELS pilot and ELS have resulted in no discernible change
in behaviour.
195. Evidence from the latest evaluation41 tends to confirm this with the two most frequent
reasons for choosing options that the features were already in place (93%) or it was the most
straightforward way of achieving the points threshold (92%). Points allocations were a very low
consideration except for a small number of arable/arable buffer options.
Advantages
Disadvantages
Could be used in conjunction with
combined options to make combinations
relatively more attractive than constituent
parts.
Difficult to predict how people will
behave to changes in points allocations,
could have an adverse affect on scheme
uptake.
Straightforward to implement within Changes in points allocations can easily be
existing scheme structure, no additional overtaken by unforeseen price changes
complexity for applicants.
(e.g. current high cereal prices).
Evidence from previous changes suggests
that that has limited effectiveness.
196. Conclusion: The evidence from both CSL reports suggests that farmers choose a limited
suite of options and that points allocations are not a major consideration in option choice.
There has been no significant effect on behaviour/option choice despite the reductions made
to option points allocations between the Pilot and ELS.
Recommendation: Points rebalancing should be reconsidered alongside the scheme
payment rate review; timed to maximise the impact on ELS renewals which will begin
in 2010. Particular attention should be given for the scope to differentiate points
allocations for new combined options relative to their standalone components.
7.2.3 Geographic Approaches.
197. An alternative approach to ensuring the best fit of ELS options with the environmental
priorities of an area (geographical literacy) is a geographically differentiated ELS. Such an
approach could involve geographical payment rates and/or geographically specific option lists.
198. Geographic payment rates. Theoretically this should be a more efficient way of paying for
scheme outcomes, more accurately reflecting the actual cost in a specific location. However,
it is difficult to estimate as there is little data about extent to which agri-environment scheme
income foregone calculations reflect the actual cost incurred and the extent to which this
varies regionally. Assuming that most applicants select options where the income foregone
is favourable compared to the actual cost of management then substantial efficiencies could
be secured. Equally some options may cost more in certain locations and revised payments
should make these more attractive. However, CSL evaluation shows that points/payment rates
are not very influential in option uptake. The data required to support regionalised payment
41 68
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
rate calculations are from Farm Business Survey (FBS) which is based on Govt. Office regions.
Variations in financial performance between farm businesses of the same type within regions
etc are large and probably more significant than variations between regions. Variability in
business performance between farms is probably more significant than regional variations that
can be supported with data so unlikely to deliver efficiency gains anticipated.
199. Geographically Specific Option Lists. The existing scheme options and associated
prescriptions are inevitably generic and nationally applicable. However, option uptake is
widespread reflecting the occurrence of underlying features/systems and there is no indication
that option uptake is limited. Most options are applicable to most regions (depending on
geographic framework selected) so the extent to which option lists can be reduced is heavily
dependent on the geographic framework selected. The extent to which prescriptions require
geographic tailoring is mainly limited to a small number with dates (e.g. hedge cutting) which
vary regionally. A more targeted approach constraining option choice to specific options in
geographic areas would be possible but this would move away from the current free choice
approach and could have major adverse impacts on scheme attractiveness and uptake.
200. A major attraction of geographic approaches is that they should entail limited additional
complexity for applicants, apart from boundary cases/complex holdings in multiple locations.
However, operationally this would be highly complex and resource intensive for NE to develop
and administer.
Recommendation: NE should complete further evaluation of the potential
effectiveness of geographically explicit approaches to delivering better geographical
literacy within ELS, and develop them subject to their effectiveness. As part of
this evaluation NE will also evaluate the extent to which Income Foregone varies
geographically/by sector to inform future scheme development.
7.3 ELS – Enhanced Scheme.
201. Two solutions have been considered:
• Offering capital items within ELS.
• Offering additional payments for additional points either for capital items or for other
options.
7.3.1 Inclusion of Capital Items within ELS.
202. The introduction of capital items in ELS and OELS would have the potential to support a
range of environmental benefits:
• Conservation and enhancement of landscape character – field boundaries are key landscape
features.
• Conservation and enhancement of historic landscapes.
• Achievement of biodiversity targets for hedges.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• Contribution to climate change adaptation through the conservation of ecological
networks.
• Contribute to protection of soil and water resources – particularly if it can offer a wider
range of options supported by advice.
• May encourage retention of benefits from expiring closed agri-environment scheme
agreements42.
203. Currently capital items are only offered through HLS as part of a Capital Works Plan
(CWP). CWPs run for one, two or, typically, three years. Agreement holders submit claims on
completion of the works. Payment is either a fixed rate for the item or a percentage of the
actual costs. CWPs have a high level of adviser input and the IT functionality to support them
is complex.
204. One proposed solution would be to offer capital items as management options within ELS.
Selection of capital items would contribute to achievement of 30 points per hectare agreement
threshold. The points allocation for ELS options would be equivalent to one-fifth of the capital
items payment rate. Payment would be as for current scheme – six monthly with claim to be
made at the end of the agreement. Only capital items available in HLS would be offered, with
the same specification. The same options would be offered in both ELS and OELS.
205. For combined (ELS/HLS or OELS/HLS agreements) there are two possible solutions:
• Only offer capital items within the HLS part of the agreement.
• Include capital items within the ELS/OELS element first, if appropriate, with additional works
covered by the HLS capital works plan. As the agreement runs for 10 years, the payment
rate for capital items within the ELS element of the agreement would be 1/10 of the capital
items payment rate. However, it would be the Adviser’s decision as to where to place these
works according to the potential environmental gain. E.g. Overall environmental gain may
be greater with a larger range of land management options covered in the ELS part of the
agreement and all the capital items covered under the HLS part of the agreement.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
Advantages
Very simple to operate – no different from
operation of current ELS scheme.
Has the same process as the current
scheme, with only the addition of a few
options, IT development requirements small.
No major change for customer – broader
range of options offered potentially making
the scheme more attractive although
evidence (from CSL evaluation and small
scale AONB surveys in the SW ) suggests
only small potential increase in uptake
as a result of availability of capital items
(approximately 10%).
The overall area of uptake for ELS and OELS
will be maintained.
Budget would be allocated over the 5 year
period and would be disbursed as profiled –
making budget situation highly stable.
May reduce some of the demand on
the HLS budget if some capital items are
completed as part of the ELS element of a
combined agreement.
Disadvantages
Capital items carried out in the wrong
location and in relation to inappropriate
features could cause significant
environmental damage.
May be difficult to specify eligibility and the
work to be carried out.
The customer will not get paid on
completion of the work. The potential
impact on cash flow may reduce uptake.
If at final claim, all the work has not been
completed and, as a consequence, the
agreement falls below its points threshold,
a higher rate of recoveries on agreements
may be required.
Potentially, will reduce spending on land
management, particularly in-field, options.
Potential for very high uptake of capital
items. Currently 95% of HLS agreement
holders have CWPs. An NFU survey
indicated 81% of members supported the
introduction of capital items into ELS. The
CSL evaluation indicated 18% of existing
ELS & OELS agreement holders wanted
inclusion of capital works.
206. Proposed mitigation for disadvantages:
• Only offer those capital items where the risks associated with inappropriate action are
substantially reduced. Initial comments indicate that these would largely be the boundary
restoration options.
• Only offer those items where eligibility and the specifications can be set out unambiguously.
Provision of advice would help ensure appropriate selection of options and best practice in
implementation.
• Customers will receive regular payments for the work and, theoretically, could time works
so that costs are covered.
• Handbooks will have to be explicit that if work not completed there is the potential that all
agreement monies will be recovered. Advise customers to include 10% or 15% more works
than the target rate for the points threshold so reduce risk of recovery in the event of some
non-completion. Monitor effectiveness and revise approach to capital items if evidence
shows an unacceptable level of recoveries.
• To retain balance of land management options require agreement holders to include a
certain percentage of land management options within their agreement before they can
include capital items within their agreement i.e. effectively introduce a split lists approach
to ELS.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• Cap the level of uptake (see notes below on potential capping). Again, effectively introduces
split lists.
207. Two options for capping capital payments were considered:
• Cap applied a fixed proportion of points threshold either 20% of points (6 points per
hectare) or 25% of points (7.5 points per hectare).
• Cap at a maximum points/pounds value per agreement e.g. £1000 per agreement.
208. The following assumptions were applied to both options:
• Annual budget for ELS/OELS will be £182 million (figure supplied by Defra).
• Maximum number of agreement holders will be 45,200 (based on current figures on
approximately £134 million spend for 33,300 agreement holders and extrapolating.
• 95% of agreement holders will opt for capital items (based on current uptake within HLS).
Therefore, 43,000 agreements will have capital items.
209. Option 1. Set a cap on the percentage of the target points total that could be delivered
by capital items. This has the advantage of being a relatively straightforward approach that
would be simple to operate. However, smaller holdings would have very little monies for capital
works e.g. a 50ha holding, points target = 1500 per year therefore, at 20% capital works, only
£300 available for capital works. Small sums are unlikely to be attractive through capital items,
therefore a cap must be set for either the total points or a percentage of the points target.
Therefore only holdings of 141 ha and above would receive same payment as for the fixed cap
(Option 2).
210. Option 2. Set a fixed cap per agreement. If 20% of the available annual ELS budget
(£36.4 million) is diverted to capital items each agreement holder could receive £846 per year
for capital items. This would be equivalent to approximately 450m hedge restoration with
top binding and staking with sheep fencing or approximately 237m wall restoration with top
wiring. If 25% of the available budget (£45.5 million) is diverted to capital items each year
each agreement holder could receive £1058 per year for capital items. Equivalent to 575m of
hedge restoration with top binding and staking and sheep fencing or approximately 297m of
wall restoration with top wiring. This approach has the advantage of making significant money
available on smaller holdings for capital works. Conversely larger holdings are at a disadvantage.
This approach is less easily incorporated into the existing scheme points framework and would
require significant IT development if automated within the IT system. There would also be
potential that small holdings could achieve their points target entirely through capital items
therefore must set a cap either total points or a percentage of the points target. Overall this
approach appears more complex for both customers and administrators.
211. Conclusion:
• Only a small suite of options could be offered. A wider range of options could be delivered
if the selection of particular options triggered the provision of advice.
• Introduction of split lists and/or capping would lead to a greater complexity in the scheme
for customers and unless incorporated into the IT system (which would incur development
costs) would require more process time for agreements from NE.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
• The attractiveness of the proposed capped level of capital items is not clear. At 6 points
per hectare or £846 per holding, a sample of the current HLS uptake of capital items
indicates that 28-29% of agreement holders would meet all their capital item requirements
for the proposed suite of capital items. At 7.5 points per hectare or £1058 per holding
potentially 35-36% of agreement holders would meet their capital works requirements.
However, looking at CSS agreements the figures are 65% and 71% of agreement holders
respectively.
• Offering capital works within the existing ELS points threshold might make ELS more
attractive to some sectors/applicants but is unlikely to address the gap between ELS and
HLS.
Recommendation: Develop and test an ELS capital works proposal (within the
existing points threshold).
7.3.2 Raised Points Threshold.
212. Taking money out of the current ELS scheme and offering capital items, or other
enhancements e.g. more of the existing options, separately or on top of the current ELS
scheme for those agreement holders who wish to do more would be an alternative approach.
The current scheme would still run with a points threshold of 30 per hectare. The major
disadvantage of this approach would be that it would reduce uptake of ELS & OELS.
213. The tables below show that if a payment rate of £40/ha is offered overall uptake is
reduced by 2.5% for every 10% increase in the uptake of the higher(enhanced) payment rate
or by 4% for every 10% at £50/ha.
Uptake (000s ha)
[%Reduction]
Percentage
of budget
at 30
points per
hectare
100%
95%
90%
80%
75%
70%
60%
50%
Percentage of budget at 40 points per hectare
0%
5%
10%
20%
25%
30%
40%
50%
6067
5788 [1.3]
5915 [2.5]
5763 [5]
5687 [6.3]
5612 [7.5]
5460 [10]
5308 [12.5]
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Uptake (000s ha)
[%Reduction]
Percentage
of budget at 30
points per
hectare
Percentage of budget at 50 points per hectare
0%
100%
95%
5%
10%
20%
25%
30%
40%
50%
6067
5945 [2.0]
90%
5824 [4.0]
80%
5581 [8]
75%
5460 [10]
70%
5339 [12]
60%
5096 [16]
50%
4853 [20]
214. An alternative would be to offer capital items effectively as a separate scheme for all
strands of ES, with budgets and options for each strand (potentially including UELS). Monies
awarded on 1st come-1st served basis. Targets could be set for specific geographical areas and
grants awarded if met those targets. It would be possible to offer a much wider range of
options (i.e. equivalent to HLS) if linked to adviser input.
Advantages
Disadvantages
Targeting and assessing geographically could High set up costs for an IT system to deliver
this system. Capital works functionality
lead to greater environmental benefits.
on Genesis would require major
Potentially higher payments available for
revision therefore this change could be
those that meet targets.
implemented.
More flexible system – scheme has all
Separate application may be a barrier to
capital items available – as priorities and
uptake – conversely it may be a mechanism
circumstances change different options
to regulate uptake.
could be made available within ELS,
Risk exhausting budget if demand is high.
potentially, without the need for significant
changes to IT systems.
Greater fluctuations in expenditure as
Customers would be paid on completion of
work – more attractive.
agreement holders submit claims. Potential
for under-spend – much greater uncertainty
for budgeting.
Potentially more resource intensive to
operate.
Potentially would require more piloting.
215. Conclusion. An enhanced ELS based on a raised points threshold has considerable
potential to address the gap between ELS and HLS. The main drawback of this approach is that
it would require funding through an increased budget, or more likely reduced uptake of ELS
and/or HLS. Currently the evidence available to compare the environmental benefits delivered
by different levels of ELS uptake with those that might be delivered by a slightly lower level of
uptake supplemented by targeted capital works is limited and inconclusive.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
Recommendation: Develop and test an enhanced ELS proposal, including scope for
geographical targeting (based on a higher points threshold).
Recommendation: Undertake further research to inform the optimum balance of
agri-environment scheme intensity (£ha/yr) and coverage (ha in scheme) to achieve
different objectives.
7.4 Administrative Efficiency and Scheme Processes.
7.4.1 Scheme payment rate review.
216. Regular payment rate reviews are an integral part of the scheme design. Increases in
agricultural commodity prices, especially in the arable sector, mean that many payment rates
for ES options are now relatively uncompetitive (although at the start of the programme period
many were relatively attractive).
Recommendation: A scheme payment review should be carried out particularly
in order to ensure that rates are appropriate for potential scheme renewals from
2010, as well as providing value for money from the changes recommended in this
report.
7.4.2 ES Transaction Processing.
217. NE has an ongoing commitment to reduce operational costs. Indeed, since the launch of
ES in 2005, when there were a number of administrative problems, the efficiency of scheme
delivery, particularly ELS, has improved considerably. For example, the number of staff devoted
to ELS was reduced by 35% when Natural England was vested in October 2006. Despite this
reduction in resource during the year following vesting all payment and application processing
targets for ELS were met. In fact, application processing times were reduced significantly from
32 days to 7 days during this period as well (average processing time at scheme launch 90
days).
218. This improvement was achieved through:
• Staff training/increased knowledge of both the scheme and systems.
• Working with RPA to ensure the backlog of RLR registrations was cleared.
• Improving our computer system’s performance.
• Streamlining processes as much as possible.
219. In September 2007, a single team within NE was formed to handle all the transactional
processes associated with agri-environment schemes. This team will seek to deliver better
customer service to agreement holders, with fewer staff whilst still meeting all performance
targets. In the first three months of the Incentive Schemes Services (ISS) team’s operation it
has already out performed previous teams achievements in terms of timely payments for both
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
closed agri-environment schemes and HLS. By working on the areas identified in the bullets
above further improvements in the efficiency of scheme delivery will be made. It is important
therefore that changes introduced as part of this review are mindful of the need to be able to
deliver the new scheme without an increase in staff resource.
7.4.3 HLS Agreement Care and Maintenance.
220. The design of HLS is predicated on a flexible framework of options with broad prescription
sets. Within this framework it is crucial for NE to ensure that resources are deployed to monitor
and evaluate HLS agreements and provide agreement holders with the necessary support to
help them achieve the indicators of success (IoS) for their options.
7.4.4 Changes to the HLS Farm Environment Plan (FEP).
221. The FEP Handbook currently requires that a FEP must cover all features contained within
the applicants holding. The original expectation was for most FEPs to be carried out by suitably
qualified external land agents employed directly by the potential applicant (due to the knowledge
base and experience required to be able to conduct the survey). However, in June 2007 NE
agreed with Defra that securing 83% of SSSIs by area in favourable/recovering condition by 31
March 2008 was one of NE’s highest operational priorities. In order to help achieve the target,
a high level process was introduced with additional flexibilities built in regarding the operation
of HLS for SSSIs. In these cases NE Advisers take a pro-active approach to identifying holdings
containing SSSI target land and supporting customers through their HLS application. There is no
requirement for a full FEP to cover the whole holding, instead NE Advisers gather relevant data
for land due to come into HLS and effectively complete the FEP on behalf of the customer.
222. There are three significant drivers for considering a different approach:
• The FEP gathers too much information. The CSL report into the operation of ES identified
a widely held perception that too much information is collected in the FEP with insufficient
clarity on how it is used by Natural England. A notable criticism was that it is time consuming
and costly to collect data on features which will not form part of the HLS agreement. It is
perceived that this can be a barrier to customers entering HLS. Furthermore, it is felt that
customers often do not engage sufficiently in the FEP (because of its’ complexity) and it is
perceived to be of little direct use to them. This can mean that they do not buy-in to the
objectives of their agreement.
• Spatial targeting of HLS. There has been a move towards a more proactive approach to HLS
targeting. The intention is to optimise the way in which NE resources are used to maximise
the contribution made by ES and ensure high value returns, whilst still ensuring ES continues
to be a multi-objective scheme. The adoption of a more proactive targeting approach throws
into question the role of the FEP and whether it is necessary to survey all features on a
holding or only those which meet specific HLS targets.
• Reduction of the administrative burden. There is considerable pressure to reduce the burdens
and costs of administering ES. In order to do this consideration needs to be given to ways to
simplify the process of establishing new agreements, increase clarity for potential applicants
and make it simpler to adjust and ‘grow’ agreements. For the FEP the suggestion is that this
could mean additional emphasis on the pre-FEP consultation, to make it more of a scoping of
a proposed agreement with a clear indication of the key features of interest from the outset.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
223. Three options for changes to the FEP have been developed:
Option A:
Simplified FEP
Changes to the content and layout of the FEP form,
primarily to remove duplication between Parts 2 and 3.
Change to boundary recording methodology, to batch
boundaries of identical type and condition into one row
of FEP data.
Closer alignment of Historic Environment Record (HER)
and FEP, to remove the need to manually transcribe data
from HER table and map across to FEP form and map.
Option B:
Further simplification
of feature recording
methodology by extending
the boundary recording
methodology to other
feature types.
Option C:
Only FEP those features
likely to be managed by an
HLS option.
Record more features on the map only and at a holding
level in Part 2 (batching features of identical type and
condition into one row of FEP data), drilling down into
individual lines in Part 2 for key/high priority features
only.
Pre-FEP consultation to be used by NE adviser to give
the customer and/or FEP agent a strong steer regarding
which features need to be included in the FEP (e.g.
only those features applicable to regional HLS priorities/
targeting?). This could be based on their assessment
of which options ought to be included on the HLS
application form (or perhaps areas likely to be added
in at a later date if the agreement is “grown” through
subsequent amendments?).
This option would be instead of option B (rather than in
addition to it).
224. Options A and B retain the original principle of carrying out a whole farm environmental
audit, but in a more streamlined/simplified manner than at present. Under Option C, only
selected features would be recorded on the FEP so a key consideration is how these would be
identified.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
225. Option A: Simplified FEP.
Advantages
Rationalisation of Part 3 and closer
alignment of HER and FEP widely welcomed
by agents and advisers (“Brilliant!” to quote
FWAG re HER changes). Consensus that the
major time saving will be on administrative
time taken to complete the FEP (estimated
savings of 20-60%); with more limited
time savings in the field work element
(approximately 10%) as the whole farm
will still need to be walked to identify all
features. Overall savings (admin and field)
likely to be 25-30%.
NE advisers will benefit from the significant
administrative savings identified above
in respect of FEPs they carry out (i.e. for
holdings with SSSI land).
Disadvantages
The main concerns raised related to the
revised boundary recording methodology:
• inconsistency between boundary
recording approach on FEP and FER maps;
• potential confusion between different
boundary numbering approaches on FEP
and HLS options map;
• possible issues linking CWP options to
boundary features;
• long term recording of condition
improvement.
Negligible effect on scheme uptake, the
perception is that the FEP is not a barrier
to HLS. Current HLS targeting approach
and budget limitations have a much more
significant impact on uptake than the
complexities of the FEP.
226. Conclusion. On balance it was felt that the potential benefits of this approach far
outweigh the possible issues and that these could be adequately addressed through Handbook
and internal Guidance. Likely to be significant time savings producing FEPs for agents (and NE
advisers for SSSI holdings); with minimal impact on overall NE processing time. Changes widely
welcomed by agents and NE advisers.
Recommendations: NE should introduce a simplified FEP. (Key changes detailed at
Annex 11.3).
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
227. Option B: Further simplification of feature recording methodology by extending the
boundary recording methodology to other feature type.
Advantages
Mixed estimates on likely time savings.
Likely to be minimal additional admin time
savings in addition to those time savings
already identified in option A (possibly a
further 5-10%).
Disadvantages
Would need careful consideration of which
features to include in this approach – would
not necessarily fit all (e.g. woodlands tend
to differ widely across a holding).
Issues for agents/advisers completing maps
and they could be difficult to interpret.
Likely impact on overall HLS processing time
by NE advisers, may take longer to cross
reference maps to datasheet and require
more investigative field work.
If FEP agent makes a mistake in condition
assessment it will be magnified across
the holding and/or the FEP agent could
be tempted to put all features under one
condition to save time. Either of these could
undermine the reputation of the reliability
of FEP data.
Ability to record reasons for individual
condition assessment and other key
information in ‘Notes’ column will be lost
(i.e. can’t differentiate between individual
features).
Ability to link field parcel features to
management options would be lost which
will significantly curtail reporting availability.
Considered particular risk regarding
recording and reporting on BAP habitats.
228. Conclusion. Minimal additional time savings on top of Option A, but serious potential
issues re data interpretation and reporting. Not recommended for further consideration.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
229. Option C: Only FEP those features likely to be managed by an HLS option
Advantages
Disadvantages
Significant potential time savings on field
and admin work. Estimates generally range
from 40-60% (one estimate was as high
as 90%); this is likely to vary depending on
farm type/size. Less likely to make a vast
time saving for upland farms as they contain
more semi natural habitats which need
surveying; potentially higher time savings
for lowland farms as intensive grassland will
not need to be surveyed unless it is a wader
habitat.
Consensus, from NE advisers and agents
alike, that this approach would result in
some important features being missed
– particular areas of concerns related to
resource protection, archaeology and wider
landscape issues. Surveyors may choose to
‘miss’ inconvenient features.
This approach would be heavily reliant on
the NE adviser being very familiar with the
holding to ensure features of interest are
not missed – but this is often not the case.
Could use a generic approach linked to
targeting statement to identify what needs
to be surveyed, but this assumes surveyors
can adequately correlate between features
on the ground and the target outcomes –
this is not necessarily always the case.
The absence of baseline data on the whole
holding could limit the ability to ‘grow’
agreements as targets and priorities change
over time, due to the heavy reliance on
NE adviser knowledge and other datasets
instead of validated whole farm FEP data.
Area based payment methodology would
need to be reconsidered. Some suggestion
that the payment should still relate to size
of whole holding, whereas other viewpoint
that it should relate to range of features
appropriate for the area. Could become
very complicated and unjust. (This could be
avoided if NE carry out FEPs so no payment
is made).
Pre-FEP consultation time will be increased
significantly to give steer on what needs
to be included in the FEP. Likely that this
time could be clawed back on FEP checks,
technical assessment and agreement
negotiation; but would also need to factor
in check for missed opportunities.
Very high risk of negative environmental
impact due to important features and
opportunities being missed.
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Chapter 7: Scheme design and process – evaluating solutions and recommendations
230. Conclusion. This would be a fundamental shift away from the principle of the FEP as it
removes a key element – the collection of baseline data on the whole holding. However, this is
the approach currently adopted for SSSI holdings and is consistent with the ideas on pro-active
spatial targeting and “growing” agreements over a period of time.
Recommendation: NE should explore ways of securing further improvements to the
FEP process, building on the experience of the simplified FEP. This may include other
means of achieving the same objective.
7.5 HLS – Map-Based Targeting.
231. The key to ensuring ES makes the maximum possible contribution to these objectives is
through effective targeting of the scheme, especially HLS.
232. NE intends to move to a fully spatial approach to delivering HLS by October 2008. Natural
England considers that the expectations upon HLS to deliver across all five objectives of the
scheme and deliver key government targets under the current targeting system are not likely
to be met. At the same time NE is committed to an approach that provides the clarity and
transparency that our partners and stakeholders expect.
233. A detailed mapping exercise has been carried out over the last six months that, based
on the best available evidence, has mapped priority areas across England in terms of the
five primary objectives of the scheme (Access, Landscape, Historic Environment, Biodiversity,
Resource Protection). These maps are now being sent out to regional teams who will refine
them at a local level with their stakeholders.
234. The aim is to produce a multi-objective map that allows local advisors to plan where
agreements should be pursued and which options should be favoured in those areas in a clear
and consistent way. It should also provide clarity to land managers on what to expect from the
scheme in the longer term.
235. This signals a change to a much more proactive approach to delivering HLS. NE, working
with its partners, will actively seek out agreements on holdings with those features that are
likely to deliver most environmental or other public benefit.
236. Current mapping work has shown a distinction between two types of area where a
different approach to delivering the scheme might be considered. Some areas represent clear
overlaps between high priority areas where the majority of holdings are likely to contain
multiple features of high value. Away from these areas high value features are more scattered
and isolated. The scattered features do tend to fall into a limited list of categories such as small
grassland sites, farmland bird assemblages and scheduled monuments at risk.
237. In order to maximise environmental benefit in the most cost effective way Natural England
is exploring a twin track approach to HLS delivery:
• Target Areas. Subject to refinement and further testing, the areas consisting of contiguous
areas of overlapping high priority cover about 25% of England. These have been provisionally
named ‘target areas’. It is proposed that 80% of HLS funds be attributed to these areas to
develop agreements. This focus of resources should allow local advisers to focus on a list of
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
priority holdings each year, allowing them more time to proactively negotiate, develop and
monitor agreements over a longer period of time with individual land managers.
• Themes. In order to make the best use of limited resources outside of target areas, but also
delivering focussed and high quality environmental outcomes, Natural England is exploring
an approach based on specialist themes. Local advisers would identify a list of holdings each
year which contain the key features they are interested in. HLS will then be used in a highly
targeted way to maintain and improve particular features within. This will minimise any
cost to land managers but does represent a divergence from the HLS ‘whole’ farm’ ethos.
National stakeholders, including NFU and CLA, have been consulted and will continue to be
involved in decision making.
• It is also proposed that a small amount of the budget will be used to fund innovative projects
that address exceptional situations.
238. The Natural England project team, is currently investigating the risks and opportunities
associated with this approach (including efficiency savings), however, there is an emerging
consensus that this is a more clear, consistent and cost effective way of delivering HLS. These
improvements will also be greatly enhanced by the current changes recommended by the ES
Review of Progress which should help HLS work more effectively underpinned by an improved
ELS.
239. The next steps for the development of the new targeting system are as follows:
March 2008
First draft of regional target area maps produced
April 2008
Finalised map of target areas and themes finalised with
individual objectives attributed.
September 2008
Priority holdings identified for target areas and themes and
detailed plans agreed
October 2008
New targeting system fully operational
Recommendation: Natural England should continue to develop, refine and
implement a map-based approach to targeting HLS agreements. A key feature of
this approach will be that most of the resource will be concentrated in a series of
multi-objective, priority target areas, with key features outside these areas being
targeted individually.
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8
Scheme research and monitoring
8.1 Overview.
240. It is vital that research, monitoring and evaluation of agri-environment expenditure in
England continues so that schemes can be developed to deliver the best possible value for
money; and to inform wider decisions about where public funds are best spent. Following this
progress review there will be a need to review scheme monitoring and evaluation processes to
ensure that these can properly evaluate the effectiveness of the changes implemented from
this review; as well as reassess the research needs to support the future development of ES.
8.2 ES Research and Monitoring.
241. To demonstrate that agri-environment funds are being used in the best way to deliver our
environmental objectives requires not only high level evidence against strategic indicators, such
as PSA targets, but also field and farm-scale data to allow evaluation of the success of scheme
implementation, i.e. targeting, agreement negotiation and delivery. With this in mind, during
the development of ES, a joint NE and Defra monitoring and evaluation plan was developed,
setting out a range of potential indicators that were expected to be addressed. The total
available resource for this activity is approximately £1.6m per year, with £1.1m being spent by
NE and £0.5m by Defra.
242. ES has some fundamental differences from previous schemes and poses specific monitoring
challenges. These arise from the design of the scheme, particularly the twin approaches of the
untargeted ‘broad and shallow’ ELS, utilising much of the agri-environment spend but with
little advisory input, and the targeted, high delivery approach of HLS, that will deliver outcomes
for defined features, but with a smaller proportion of the overall resource and a high level of
input from Natural England staff.
243. Since their launch agri-environment schemes in England have been underpinned by a
programme of detailed research designed to inform scheme development and delivery. Across
scheme objectives, this has been directed at developing and testing management options and
techniques that if successful could be incorporated into scheme management, and which has
significantly enhanced our understanding of environmental constraints and processes.
244. The annual budget for the agri-environment research programme currently stands at
approximately £2.5m per annum. Outputs from this programme of research fed extensively
into the development of ES, including changes recommended through this review. The results
of various studies are needed before the detail of some scheme changes can be finalised.
ELS
245. Following the launch of ES, the immediate priority was to undertake a thorough evaluation
of the introduction of ES and in particular ELS, focusing on the experience of participants and
non-participants of the scheme and its processes, the popularity of individual options, and
undertaking an independent assessment of the potential of the scheme to deliver against its
objectives. This project, undertaken by CSL, was completed in 2007 and was vital in informing
this review of progress.
246. In the longer term, two of the major areas where ELS is expected to have a major impact
are in meeting the farmland bird PSA target and in contributing to reducing the impact of
farming on water resources.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
247. On the former, a programme of work is being carried out, designed to track the ‘footprint’
of ELS in the farmland bird index. This involved establishing a baseline of almost 1000 additional
Breeding Bird Survey Squares in 2005, with the intention of conducting resurveys in 2008 and
2011. Preparations for the 2008 resurvey are underway. The bird observations will be analysed
in the context of ELS uptake.
248. On the latter, an evaluation of the role of management plans within ELS has been carried
out, which has been mentioned above. Beyond this, monitoring the resource protection objective
remains a difficult area where there will be significant reliance on qualitative interpretation and
modelling of attitudinal and environmental data collected by others.
249. At the farm scale, a major replicated experiment at Hillesden Estate is being carried out
looking at the benefits to biodiversity of three management regimes, representing CrossCompliance, ELS and ELS+, in a typical arable farm system. In future, an agreement-scale
evaluation should provide evidence of the contribution of ES to all environmental objectives.
HLS
250. The challenge for HLS monitoring is to demonstrate that the outcome focus around which
it was designed is delivering the anticipated benefits. This will require a combination of internal
assessments and commissioned research, with the latter delivering specialised validation.
251. Recent projects have looked at issues such as the quality of educational access provision
and ongoing work is evaluating the targeting and use of HLS grassland restoration options and
the use of HLS options designed to provide resources for farmland bird species. There is also
a continuing programme of work designed to evaluate the contribution of agri-environment
management to the condition of various habitats at the resource scale, based on sample
surveys. Lowland grassland and lowland heathland habitats have been addressed through this
programme, with the latest emphasis on upland heath and blanket bog.
252. Strategically, it will be important to establish a programme of agreement-scale monitoring,
to assess on a sample basis the effectiveness of targeting, the agreement building process
and the integrated contribution of each agreement to each scheme objective, leading to an
overall assessment of value for money. Baseline data will also be recorded that will enable us
to track changes in condition of key features; this is potentially particularly appropriate where,
for instance, agreements are targeted at the recovery of SSSI features. In this respect, ES
monitoring should provide a quality assurance function for the programme delivering the SSSI
condition target.
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Chapter 8: Scheme research and monitoring
Recommendation: Re-examine the current ES Evaluation Plan and planned research
expenditure to ensure that projects are planned which will allow the effectiveness
of changes introduced following this review to be assessed and to generate
the evidence to support future changes. Specific issues identified in the review
include:
• Undertake further research to inform the optimum balance of agri-environment
scheme intensity (£/ha/yr) and coverage (ha in scheme) to achieve different
objectives.
• Develop further understanding of landscape scale requirements.
• Continue to develop the evidence base regarding the effectiveness of agrienvironment spending.
• Undertake further review to evaluate alternative policy and technical solutions
to securing environmental benefits in the long-term.
• Carry out further research, as necessary into climate change issues, to allow the
development of the impact of ES on climate change.
•Review existing evidence on environmentally beneficial management
combinations and commission further research as necessary.
85
9
Summary of recommendations
9.1 Overview of Recommendations.
253. The review has revisited the environmental objectives of ES and concluded that they
remain valid. However, the review has also concluded that ES should, through the contributions
it makes to these objectives, also contribute to the response to climate change.
254. ES will ultimately be judged on the contributions the scheme makes to its environmental
objectives. Improving the delivery of environmental outcomes is therefore the main purpose of
these recommendations. Adequate levels of uptake are however a pre-requisite for an effective
voluntary scheme, so in making these recommendations it has been necessary to balance the
need to improve delivery of environmental outcomes with the need to ensure that ES remains
sufficiently attractive to achieve the necessary levels of uptake. The need to maintain uptake
imposes limits on the additional demands that can be placed on agreement holders and also
reinforces the need for a review of payment rates in the light of recent changes to commodity
prices.
255. The Review has demonstrated the need for a series of changes to individual management
options across all elements of ES. The cumulative effect of this series of adjustments will be to
deliver a considerable improvement in scheme performance.
256. More fundamentally, the review has shown that, if the scheme is to be effective in
addressing its national environmental objectives whilst also delivering value for money, it must
ensure that each individual agreement addresses as far as practicable the most important
environmental issues in its local area. This requires a degree of tailoring to local circumstances
across all elements of the scheme.
257. The Review has concluded that the key structural and procedural changes needed to
achieve better targeting differ between the different elements of the scheme.
258. For HLS, the key recommendations are designed to improve the focus and geographic
targeting and to reduce the scheme’s complexity and administrative transaction costs whilst
retaining a strong outcome focus.
259. For ELS, the key recommendation is to improve both the quality and appropriateness of
the management through the provision of specific advice to scheme applicants which cover
both the selection of management options most appropriate to their area and the effective
delivery of these options. This involves a partial shift away from the original concept of ELS as an
unguided ‘self-service’ scheme, but farmers will still retain the freedom to design agreements
that fit with their individual farming systems.
260. The recommendations for ELS also include exploring and developing a series of structural
adjustments, including a split menu of scheme options (split lists), that will steer farmers to
choose more balanced packages of management options. Several of these have the potential
to add greater environmental benefit if they can be geographically or sectorally differentiated
and work is proposed to develop and test this potential.
261. The recommendations also include some proposals to address what is perceived as the
gap between ELS and HLS. However, within the funding constraints of the current RDPE, there
is no easy way of closing this gap without impact on the coverage achieved by each element
of the scheme.
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Chapter 9: Summary of recommendations
262. Uplands ELS, as a scheme specifically for a defined geographical area – the uplands, has
the potential to be a test bed for ‘hard wired’ geographic differentiation within ELS.
263. Most recommendations are intended to be implemented within existing Defra and NE
resources, working closely with stakeholders, though some may require further decisions,
including in respect of funding.
9.2 Changes to Scheme Policy.
264. ES was designed to reward existing good management practice and incentivise further
good environmental practices that go over and above the regulatory baseline. Evidence
suggests that there are no major problems with the scheme and it should play an important
role in addressing the environmental issues that make up the scheme objectives. However, it
is too early to assess accurately the degree to which it will contribute to its objectives. There
is, however, evidence to suggest that ES could do more to contribute to natural resource
protection (soil and water quality). This issue is addressed by a number of recommendations
set out below.
265. It is a policy recommendation to make climate change a theme of ES, overlaying the
existing objectives; to reflect the importance of this issue. Evidence suggests that ES already
makes a contribution to both climate change mitigation and the adaptation of the natural
environment to the changing climate. Recommendations are made to further increase the
impact of the scheme in these areas.
266. It is also a recommendation to carry out further work to examine the potential for
adapting ELS options so that they can be used in conjunction with energy crops cultivation.
267. Refinements in scheme policy may be required in making decisions about how to target
HLS resources so that they address priorities.
9.3 Changes to Improve Scheme Effectiveness.
9.3.1 Revisions to Existing ELS Options and Prescriptions.
268. The majority of recommendations are to make relatively minor changes to the current
suite of options and their prescriptions, to address issues which NE advisers and stakeholders
have encountered through scheme delivery to date. Most of these are not contentious, while
some need further work to finalise exact wording. These recommendations when implemented
will make the options clearer for applicants and should deliver better environmental outcomes.
Examples of this type of change include proposals to clarify the wording of guidance and to
highlight particular issues in guidance or prescriptions.
269. About 30 recommendations have been made to make the current options more restrictive
and hence deliver greater value for money. These have been made in the light of evidence.
These include recommendations to:
• Extend the hedgerow “no-cutting” period by one month to 31 August.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
• Increase the number of species to be sown under the pollen and nectar seed mix options
from 3 to 4 and reduce the maximum permitted percentage of a single species from 70%
to 50%.
• Prohibit the use of fertiliser in conservation headlands.
• Require the removal of soil compaction under a number of arable options.
• Prohibit grazing under the field corner management option for LFA land.
270. In addition, recommendations are made to remove two options from ELS, because they
merely pay for the avoidance of poor practices. These are:
• The brassica fodder crop option.
• The management of high erosion risk cultivated land.
271. Around 20 recommendations will introduce greater flexibility into existing options,
or represent a relaxation of the option requirements. These are made either because of
the need to achieve greater uptake of these options and / or because a relaxation of the
current requirements will not reduce the environmental benefit of the option. These include
recommendations to:
• Double the maximum patch size that can be entered into field corner management on
arable land to 2ha.
• Increase the size of the area that can be sown with wild bird seed mixture.
• Allow flexibility in the width of uncropped cultivated margins on arable land.
• Allow more regular cutting of buffer strips.
• Allow supplementary feeding under the enclosed rough grazing option.
272. See Appendix 11.7 for full details of these recommendations, including a link to
supporting evidence and stakeholder views.
9.3.2 New ELS Options.
273. About 14 possible new options are suggested. As well as offering an additional contribution
to the scheme’s environmental outcomes, these also offer additional ways for applicants to
meet their points target. These recommendations include:
• Possible new options for the establishment and protection of hedgerow trees.
• A possible summer fallow option to help mitigate against the loss of set aside.
• A 12-20m riparian buffer strip on cultivated land.
• A new option for enhanced maize management.
• A new option to fund the maintenance of watercourse fencing.
• A possible new upland option to encourage haymaking.
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Chapter 9: Summary of recommendations
274. In addition, a small number (circa. 5) of new combined ELS options which, based on
existing evidence, have the potential for widespread environmental benefit (i.e. they are not
highly species/location specific), will be developed and implemented. This will need to be done
in conjunction with the proposed review of scheme targeting, the possible introduction of a
simple split list, the review of payment rates and consideration of ELS capital items.
275. A further recommendation that will improve the effectiveness of ELS is the proposal to
develop an enhanced programme of advice (subject to funding), which, as well as supporting
uptake, would be aimed at supporting agreement holders during the lifetime of their
agreement, hence ensuring options chosen are implemented in line with best practice, thereby
maximising the environmental benefits of options.
9.3.3 Revisions to Existing HLS Options and Prescriptions.
276. As with ELS, the majority of changes to existing options and prescriptions are relatively
minor and non-contentious.
277. A limited number of recommendations (about 7) would make the relevant options more
restrictive.
278. Almost 30 recommendations (including 20 associated with the Farm Environment Plan
(FEP)) would make HLS options less onerous or more flexible. These include recommendations
to:
• Allow the fodder crop management option to be applied to part fields as well as whole fields.
• Allow greater flexibility in the lowland heath options, for example allow winter grazing.
• Increase the payment rate for grip blocking to 100% of the income foregone.
9.3.4 New HLS Options.
279. About 8 possible new HLS options are proposed. These need further development and
include:
• Possible new capital items for earthbanks and orchards.
• Possible new options to prevent wind erosion.
9.4 Changes to Improve Scheme Design and Processes.
9.4.1 Changes addressing: Sectoral variations in level of ELS Agreement Uptake.
280. In the short-term, an enhanced programme of advice is a highly flexible mechanism
to deliver targeted advisory support to specific sectors. This will be particularly important to
support uptake of ELS in the uplands, underpinning the roll-out of UELS in 2010. Further work
to identify potential funding sources for this advice will be undertaken: options could include
some direct delivery by NE resourced from efficiency savings and/or externally contracted
regional advice provision funded from a small transfer of programme funds from Axis 2 to Axis
1, subject to EU approval.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
281. A scheme payment rate review could also help rebalance the relative attractiveness of
scheme options during the current period of relatively buoyant commodity prices, especially in
the arable and dairy sectors.
9.4.2 Changes addressing: Fit of ELS options in relation to local environmental
priorities.
282. In the short-term an enhanced programme of advice with a strong element of geographic
targeting is a highly flexible mechanism to achieve a better fit of ELS options with local
environmental priorities. A review of the existing geographical targeting guidance for ELS and
the way it is delivered should also identify ways that this can be made more effective and can
be deployed in support of the enhanced programme of advice.
283. The scope for a geographically/sectorally differentiated split list approach will also be
developed and, subject to a favourable assessment, implemented. This has the potential to
identify a geographically specific list of options which must contribute a specified proportion
of agreement points.
284. It is also proposed to explore and evaluate a range of scheme structural changes that
have the potential to make a significant contribution to addressing this issue. Subject to further
evaluation, these could include:
• “Enhanced” ELS, including scope for geographical targeting.
• As part of the scheme payment rate review, assess the extent to which Income Foregone
varies sectorally/geographically and consider scope for differentiated payment rates.
• Further evaluation of geographically differentiated approaches to delivering better local
environmental priorities within ELS.
9.4.3 Changes addressing: Balance of options within ELS agreements.
285. The provision of more advice at the agreement development/renewal stage has significant
scope to influence option choice with individual agreements and secure better balanced ELS
agreements which address a range of scheme objectives. This enhanced advisory input can be
supported by improved geographical targeting guidance that provides greater clarity about the
appropriate balance of scheme options for a given area.
286. The introduction of a simple split list approach based on a minimum proportion of
agreement points from a defined list would be a major tool for influencing option choice within
agreements. The precise extent of rebalancing can be adjusted according to the points threshold
selected. This approach requires further development and testing work during 2008 and could
comprise a generic national, or geographic/sector specific list framework. A notification to the
EU may be required in order to implement this approach, as would some associated IT system
development, forms and handbook changes. Subject to these it should be possible to roll-out
these changes in time for the first round of scheme renewals in 2010.
287. A scheme payment rate review could also help rebalance the relative attractiveness
of many in-field options during the current period of relatively buoyant commodity prices,
especially in the arable sector.
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Chapter 9: Summary of recommendations
9.4.4 Changes addressing: Gap between ELS and HLS coverage.
288. The options for substantially addressing the gap between ELS and HLS are heavily
constrained by the funding available. Without accepting a lower level of ELS or HLS coverage,
the scope is limited to deploying resources differently within the scheme. It is proposed to
further explore and evaluate the environmental effectiveness of two scheme structural changes
that have the potential to make a contribution to addressing this issue. Subject to a positive
outcome, EU notification and IT development these could be implemented in time for the first
round of scheme renewals in 2010. These are:
• An enhanced ELS scheme (raised points threshold), including scope for geographical
targeting.
• An ELS capital works proposal (within existing points threshold).
289. Changes to the way HLS is targeted, which will include using more tightly focused, lower
cost HLS agreements to target isolated high priority features outside the main target areas, may
also help reduce the gap between the two elements of the scheme.
9.4.5 Changes addressing: Getting the best environmental outcomes and value for
money from HLS.
290. In addition to the detailed scheme changes mentioned above a major simplification
of the FEP will be undertaken early in 2008. This has the potential to make very significant
resource savings for both applicants/agents and for Natural England through rationalisation
and simplification.
291. It is also proposed to explore and evaluate further improvements to the FEP process
during 2008, building on the experience of the simplified FEP and the evolving map-based
targeting of HLS.
292. NE will also continue to develop, refine and implement a map-based approach to
targeting HLS agreements. In conjunction with a move to a pro-active approach to selecting
HLS scheme participants, this will provide the framework for a more efficient deployment of
HLS resources to achieve maximum environmental benefit. The identification of a series of
target areas will focus the majority of the resource in the geographic areas where the scheme
can most effectively achieve synergy within and between objectives. The identification of key
themes for HLS in the rest of the countryside will allow HLS to be used in a highly targeted,
selective and cost-effective way.
9.4.6 Changes addressing: Closed agri-environment scheme transfer rates.
293. High rates of transfer from expiring CS and ESA agreements into ES are important to
safeguard the environmental gains secured by previous public investment. NE already has
a comprehensive programme of support in place to assist closed agri-environment scheme
agreement holders, whose agreements are expiring, to enter ES. Further efficiency gains within
NE should release additional resource to support this process. In addition, subject to securing
funding, an enhanced programme of externally contracted advice can be targeted specifically
on these expiring agreements to ensure that the necessary support is in place to renew
agreements into the most appropriate strand of ES.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
294. It is also proposed to explore and evaluate two scheme structural changes that have
the potential to make a significant contribution to addressing this issue. Subject to a positive
outcome, EU notification and IT development these could be implemented in time for the first
round of scheme renewals in 2010. These are:
• An enhanced ELS scheme (raised points threshold), including scope for geographical
targeting.
• An ELS capital works proposal (within existing points threshold).
9.5 Research and monitoring.
295. ES delivery is supported by both a monitoring and evaluation programme and a specific
research programme. Following the review there is a need to re-assess these programmes in
the light of changes to be made. It is vital that these programmes are developed to support
and closely monitor the effect of these changes and to continue to develop the evidence base
regarding the effectiveness of spending on agri-environment schemes.
296. There are also a small number of more detailed recommendations in this area which are
shown in the table below.
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Recommendations – Scheme Policy.
Report
Section
Issues Addressed43
1
2
3
4
5
6
Estimated
Implementation
7
8
Climate change should be an overarching theme of ES.
4.4
Further work is done to examine whether ELS options can be developed or
adapted to maximise the environmental contribution of energy crop cultivation.
4.6
Recommendations – Option Effectiveness
Report
Section
Issues Addressed
1
2
3
4
5
6.1
1
2
3
4
5
7
Introduced in
Genesis update
scheduled late
2008, subject to EU
notification where
required and IT
development.
6.1
1
4
5
7
Unknown,
development could
be lengthy. Aim
for EU notification
2009.
Overall Recommendation: The over 100 detailed changes to ELS options (revised
options, prescriptions and new options), outlined in Appendix 11.7 should be
implemented by Natural England. These are:
7
Revised handbooks
re-issued Spring 2008
2
2008
6
7
– c hanges to existing options and prescriptions to improve the scheme and
resolve minor issues – the majority fall into this category;
– about 30 changes to make existing options and prescriptions more demanding;
8
Estimated
Implementation
– about 20 changes to make existing options and prescriptions more flexible; and
Examine ways of building on the benefits that the former management plan
options offered in a way that adds value to the scheme.
Natural England should develop and implement a small number of new combined 6.1.6
options which based on existing evidence have potential for widespread
environmental benefit (i.e. they are not highly species/location specific).
43 1
93
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
3
4
the effectiveness of ES Options.
Sectoral (and associated geographical) variations in level of ELS Agreement Uptake
Fit of options chosen within ELS agreements in relation to environmental priorities of area.
Balance of options within ELS agreements (particularly balance between field boundary and in-field options, but also balance across scheme objectives)
Gap between ELS and HLS coverage
Getting the best environmental outcomes and value for money from HLS
Climate Change adaptation
Closed agri-environment Scheme Renewal rates.
2010 subject to EU
notification
Chapter 9: Summary of recommendations
– develop and introduce a number of new options.
94
Report
Section
Issues Addressed
1
2
3
4
5
6.2
1
2
3
4
5
Natural England should develop a framework to enable flexibility in HLS option
payment rates to be applied consistently.
6.2.6
1
Working with Defra, NE should:
6.3
Overall Recommendation: The over 80 detailed changes to HLS options outlined
in Annex 11.7 should be implemented by Natural England. These are:
6
7
7
– c hanges to existing options and prescriptions to improve the scheme and
resolve minor issues – the majority fall into this category;
– about 7 changes to make existing options and prescriptions more demanding;
– a bout 30 changes to make existing options and prescriptions more flexible
(including 20 relating to the FEP); and
8
Estimated
Implementation
Introduced in
Genesis update
scheduled late
2008, subject to EU
notification where
required and IT
development.
– investigate a number of new options.
–M
ake better use of ES as a tool to raise awareness and understanding of
climate change in the agricultural sector.
–M
ake appropriate changes to ES to further reduce the contribution of
agriculture to climate change (Following an assessment being carried out
by expert contractors of current ES options and potential climate change
mitigation measures).
–C
ontribute to the development of any strategic changes to ES to ensure
that the climate change mitigation impact is maximised and to ensure that
incentives provided for land management through ES actively contribute to the
delivery of climate change adaptation strategies.
–C
ontribute to the development of any new measure designed to build on the
environmental benefits offered by the management plan options, so that the
measure makes a contribution to climate change issues.
6
2008
7
Ongoing
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Recommendations – Option Effectiveness
Recommendations – Scheme Design and Process
Report
Section
Issues Addressed
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Estimated
Implementation
Natural England should introduce a simplified FEP. (Key changes detailed at
Annex 11.3):
7.4.4
6
Spring 2008
Natural England should explore ways of securing further improvements to the
FEP process, building on the experience of the simplified FEP. This may include
other means of achieving the same objective.
7.4.4
6
2008
Natural England should continue to develop, refine and implement a mapbased approach to targeting HLS agreements. A key feature of this approach
will be that most of the resource will be concentrated in a series of multiobjective, priority target areas, with key features outside these areas being
targeted individually.
7.5
6
Summer 2008
The existing geographical targeting guidance for ELS, including the JCA based
targeting statements, should be reviewed to explore ways that it can be made
more effective. This review should be linked to the ongoing development
work on map-based targeting for ES.
7.2.1
Develop a significantly enhanced, geographically differentiated, programme
of advice to support ELS delivery and secure the funding necessary to
implement.
7.1
Develop and test a simple single-split list approach (including national,
geographic and sectoral alternatives) based on a minimum specified
proportion of agreement points coming from 1 or more options on the list.
7.2.1
Develop an ELS capital works proposal (within the existing points threshold).
7.3.1
Develop an enhanced ELS proposal, including scope for geographical
targeting (based on a higher points threshold).
7.3.2
2
4
3
4
3
4
3
2008
8
2009 subject to
EU modification
Testing during 2008,
implementation 2010
subject to
EU notification
8
Testing during 2008,
implementation 2010
subject to
EU notification
8
Testing during 2008,
implementation 2010
subject to
EU notification
Chapter 9: Summary of recommendations
3
95
96
Report
Section
Issues Addressed
1
2
Natural England should complete further evaluation of the potential
effectiveness of geographically explicit approaches to delivering better
geographical literacy within ELS, and develop them subject to their
effectiveness. As part of this evaluation Natural England will also evaluate the
extent to which Income Foregone varies geographically/by sector to inform
future scheme development.
3
4
5
6
7
8
3
A full scheme payment review should be carried out and implemented
particularly in order to ensure that rates are appropriate for potential scheme
renewals from 2010, as well as providing value for money from the changes
recommended in this report.
7.4.1
Points rebalancing should be reconsidered alongside the scheme payment
rate review timed to maximise the impact on ELS renewals which will begin
in 2010. Particular attention should be given to the scope to differentiate
points allocations for new combined options relative to their standalone
components.
7.2.2
2
3
Estimated
Implementation
Ongoing
4
8
4
tbc
2010 subject to EU
notification
Recommendations – Research and Monitoring
Report Section
Re-examine the current ES Evaluation Plan and planned research expenditure to update them to ensure that projects are planned
which will allow the effectiveness of changes introduced following this review to be assessed and to generate the evidence to
support future changes. Specific issues identified in the review include:
8
• Undertake further research to inform the optimum balance of agri-environment scheme intensity (£/ha/yr) and coverage (ha in
scheme) to achieve different objectives.
• Develop further understanding of landscape scale requirements.
• Continue to develop the evidence base regarding the effectiveness of agri-environment spend.
• Further review work should be undertaken to evaluate alternative policy and technical solutions to securing environmental
benefits in the long-term.
• Carry out further research, as necessary into climate change issues, to allow the development of the impact of ES on climate
change.
• Review existing evidence on environmentally beneficial management combinations and commission further research as
necessary.
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Recommendations – Scheme Design and Process
10
Implementation overview
297. The implementation of the recommendations in this report will be led by Natural England,
working in conjunction with Defra which will lead on some aspects of implementation, for
example EU approval. Some recommendations are fully developed, while others signal the need
for further development work and consultation. Once the detail of these recommendations
have been developed, they will require EU approval before implementation.
298. Introducing these changes to the scheme will require a complex series of co-ordinated
updates to supporting information and systems. Some initial planning has commenced
and the first sketch of a proposed implementation programme is outlined in the following
paragraphs.
299. Revisions to options and scheme rules must be reflected in the scheme literature, which
form part of the legal documentation for agreements under the Scheme. NE is in the process
of producing revised versions of the Scheme Handbooks for issue in spring 2008. Therefore,
the first tranche of changes arising from this Review will be incorporated in this next edition
of the Handbooks.
300. Most of the changes to scheme options and rules must also be incorporated within the
IT system – Genesis – which supports delivery of ES. Updates to this system are carried out
during a small number of releases each year. These releases must start development some
months before changes are put to live within the system. For this reason, the first set of Review
recommendations will be implemented in summer 2008 with a further set of changes in winter
2008.
301. Some of the changes to scheme options, including the introduction of new options, will
require approval from the EU through the notification process. It is hoped to initiate this process
in spring 2008 with a view to implementing this next suite of changes in winter 2008.
302. These changes must be accompanied by training and guidance for delivery staff, and
potential applicants and their agents, to ensure that the changes are fully understood in
advance of their introduction.
303. Other recommendations require further development work and testing. It is planned that
this work should start in 2008 with the intention that, if proved successful, these changes could
be introduced in 2009 and 2010. Some of these potential changes would require agreement
to a modification to the approved programme from the EU and could require significant IT
development. Work on these would have to commence in 2009 for implementation in 2010.
304. The table below sets out the expected implementation window of the review
recommendations. Those which may require further approval before implementation are
shown in italics.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Implementation window
Recommendations
Spring/Summer 2008
Introduction of climate change theme
Revision to ELS and HLS options
Simplified FEP
Review of scheme literature
Autumn/Winter 2008
Better use of ES to raise awareness of climate change
New ELS and HLS options
Some revised ELS and HLS options
Map-based approach to HLS targeting
Geographical targeting guidance for ELS
Further evaluation of geographically explicit approaches
to ELS
Review and update current Evaluation Plan
2009
Combined options
Changes to further address climate change mitigation
Ways of building on the benefits of the management
plan options
Further improvements to the FEP process
Enhanced ELS advice programme
2010
Points re-balancing
Split-list approach to ELS.
ELS capital works
Enhanced ELS
305. The Natural England Delivery Group, which reports to the RDPE Programme Board, will
maintain an overview of the implementation of the recommendations. NE will engage the
statutory stakeholders through this group.
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Chapter 10: Implementation overview
306. In addition, Natural England will consult and engage, as appropriate, with other
stakeholders on implementation through the Agri-Environment Stakeholder Group. This group
is the means by which Natural England engages with stakeholders on current delivery issues,
which may be affected by changes proposed in the Review, therefore it will be beneficial to
consider both in tandem.
RDPE Programme Board
Programme
Monitoring
Committee
Programme
Support
Office
Audit & Risk
Committee
NE Delivery
Group
FC Delivery
Group
RDA Delivery
Group
Agrienvionment
Stakeholder
Group
99
11
Appendices
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
11.1 CSL Executive Summary
Overview of the evaluation
1. This chapter brings together the key points arising from the foregoing chapters to provide
an overview of the main outcomes of the evaluation. Key messages are identified, outcomes
are reviewed in relation to the success criteria, and recommendations are made for potential
management changes and possible future research.
Key messages
2. The pattern of uptake was strongly skewed, with many options exhibiting very low
uptake. Farmers appear to be choosing options that involve relatively little change to current
practice, or a reduction in management (e.g. cutting hedges less frequently), although for
certain options they appear to have underestimated the amount of change needed. Modelling
of environmental benefits indicated that significant contributions will be made by ELS/OELS, but
greater uptake of some less popular options could increase environmental benefits. However,
spatial analysis provided evidence that, for some indicators, there was a significant relationship
between the location of relevant options and target objectives (e.g. arable flora, bird species,
catchments at risk of pollution).
3. Most participants and two-thirds of non-participants supported the scheme. Stakeholders
were also supportive, and considered that ES, especially HLS, would make substantial
contributions to Government targets. Participants considered impacts would be greatest for
wildlife and landscape. The gap between ELS/OELS and HLS in relation to the emphasis on
maintenance of features and the absence of capital works in ELS/OELS, was a concern for
some.
4. Guidance documents and advice were generally considered helpful, but telephone
advice was criticised, though it had improved over time. Very few individuals felt that a lack of
guidance prevented them from entering ELS/OELS and participants thought that they needed
further advice for the management of only 7% of options chosen. Meetings and access to
Defra staff on the telephone were the most useful sources of advice for participants and the
latter was considered particularly important for ongoing support. HLS participants also valued
farm visits by RDS and contact with a single named adviser was frequently suggested. Many
stakeholders were happy with advice and guidance, but some thought it could be improved.
Pre- and post-application visits were strongly supported.
5. Although the entry level strands are largely “hands-off” schemes, where advice on option
uptake is available, this can have a significant influence on option choice. For example, spatial
analysis option uptake in relation to water quality showed high uptake of relevant options in
the Wensum catchment, a pilot area for the Defra Catchment Sensitive Farming programme.
6. Stakeholders were generally happy with the operation of ELS/OELS (apart from the uptake
pattern), but had some concerns about HLS. The targeting process was a particular focus of
concern. Bureaucracy and difficulties in obtaining maps, application forms and processing
agreements were criticised by both stakeholders and participants.
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Chapter 11: Appendices
7. Stakeholders supported continued funding for organic farming and considered that the
Government should continue to provide funding for organic conversion and ongoing support
for organic farmers. A majority thought that this should continue to be provided through the
OELS.
8. FERs and FEPs were thought useful, but the FEP was too long and complicated. Field
validation showed that most were completed well, though few were completely free of errors.
9. The baseline environmental assessment of the ELS and OELS indicated that a considerable
amount of change in management practices would be required to fulfil option prescriptions.
Quality of features being managed was generally good or very good, though some were poor.
Comparison with features outside the scheme indicated that, for many of the attributes measured,
higher quality features were being selected within farms for entry into the scheme.
Outcomes in relation to success criteria
10. Evidence for the success of the scheme was reviewed in relation to a set of success criteria
established at the start of the evaluation.
11. Indicator: Uptake is on a straight-line trajectory to achieve uptake target. On current
trends, ELS uptake is likely to meet the December 2007 target of 60% farmland coverage by
December 2007, but the targets of 340,000 ha in OELS by the end of 2007, and 200,000 ha
under HLS, are unlikely to be achieved.
12. Indicator: ELS/OELS applicants select appropriate options with 70% of ELS options surveyed
in the field located appropriately to achieve intended outcomes. Most agreement holders
chose options appropriate for their farm, but some evidence suggests that greater uptake of
some less popular options could increase benefits for biodiversity. In general, options are sited
in appropriate locations, though with some exceptions. Spatial analysis revealed significant
positive associations at national level between option location and target for diffuse pollution
by nitrate, phosphate and pesticide, rare arable flora and two key bird species, though not
historic features. It is concluded the target has been partially met in terms of options choice,
and fully met in terms of option location.
13. Indicator: Natural England advisers believe all HLS agreements reflect JCA targeting
priorities, and contain correct options, located appropriately, to maximise achievement of
objectives. Responses given by Natural England advisers to a short questionnaire indicated that
a majority of Natural England advisers were satisfied that JCA targets were being addressed,
though there were some reservations and suggestions for improvement. It is concluded that
the target for the first part of the objective has therefore been largely met. With respect to the
second part of the objective, opinions varied. At least 60% of respondents thought that all
agreements contained the correct options to meet historic environment and access objectives,
but fewer than 30% thought that they all contained options suitable for biodiversity,
conservation of genetic resources and flood management objectives. It is concluded that the
target for this part of the objective has not been fully met.
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14. Indicator: Modelling of outcomes, based upon uptake, suggests that all objectives will be
achieved for OELS and ELS; and they will make significant potential contribution to high level
Defra objectives. Modelling at national level based on expert assessment showed significant
environmental benefits for the limited range of options (e.g. hedgerows) for which full scores
were obtained, but with scope for improvement for others. For indicators with restricted
geographical ranges, modelling within this range only would give more accurate estimates of
environmental impact. It is concluded that this target has been only partially met.
15. Indicator: The OELS is supported by the organic sector, maintains the commitment
of existing organic farmers and has a positive influence on decisions to convert land to
organic farming. Only one response was received to the stakeholder survey from an organic
organisation, but this was supportive. Questionnaire responses indicated that OELS has strong
support from organic farmers and it has a positive influence in maintaining their commitment
and in stimulating conversion of land to organic status. It is therefore concluded that this target
has been met.
16. Indicator: Natural England evaluation results show that ES agreements following on from
WES agreements have the potential to deliver the management required to maintain the sites
in good condition. After an initial evaluation, during which WES was retained whilst the ability
of HLS to deliver the required management were explored, Natural England have decided
to convert the majority of WES agreements to HLS agreements on renewal. It is therefore
concluded that the target has been met.
17. Indicator: Majority of stakeholders believe the scheme will achieve its outcomes and
contribute to Defra high-level targets. Most organisations thought that the ES scheme would
make a positive contribution to scheme targets. In general, contributions to biodiversity and
landscape were thought to be greater than to resource protection and the historic environment.
Only minor impacts of HLS to access and genetic resources were expected. The target is
considered to have been partially met.
18. Indicator: Majority (75%) of participants are positive about scheme, understand the
application process, and demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of the scheme. Over
90% of ELS/OELS participants and nearly 70% of non-participants supported the scheme.
Most participants understood the application process and related purpose of the scheme to
landscape and wildlife, but also indicated that the scheme would be important for the other
environmental objectives. It is concluded that the target has been met.
19. Indicator: Majority of participants are satisfied with guidance documentation and levels
of support and advice for the scheme. Most participants thought the handbooks were useful.
Around half thought environmental information maps and ELS/OELS guidance notes were
useful. A higher proportion of HLS participants thought that guidance was useful. Defra
telephone advice on ELS received lower ratings, though it improved over time. Meetings and
RDS telephone advice were useful but the website was less used. HLS site visits by advisers were
considered very useful. It is therefore concluded that the target has been met.
20. Indicator: Majority of FERs and FEPs are completed correctly. Majority of participants
find FERs and FEPs useful in completing application. FERs and FEPs were considered useful by
participants, but few were completed without error. The quality of FERs and FEPs was variable;
some contained a significant number of mistakes and some errors related to important habitats
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or features. Therefore it is concluded that, although the second point of the target has been
met, the first part has not.
21. Indicator: 80% of ELS/OELS Scheme participants deliver more environmentally beneficial
management (beyond the requirements of regulation and cross-compliance) than if they had
not taken part in the scheme. The participant survey suggested that 60% (ELS) to 75% (OELS)
of features entered into the scheme were already being managed along the lines required by
ELS prescriptions. However, evidence from the baseline environmental assessment indicates
that for some options, a considerable proportion of agreement holders will have to make
changes. It is likely that the target for this indicator has not been met, because more than 20%
of participants were probably already carrying out the requisite management before entering
the scheme, however it is not possible to determine this precisely, because the analyses relate
to individual options rather than agreements. The results suggest that ELS/OELS are supporting
existing management beyond the requirements of regulation and cross compliance which
could be changed if not entered into the scheme. Also, individuals may have underestimated
the amount of change required when stating their reasons for selecting options.
22. Indicator: At least 90% of agreement holders in existing schemes (CSS, ESAs and WES)
with expiring agreements apply to enter Environmental Stewardship, and at least 50% of these
apply to enter the HLS. It was not possible to carry out this analysis because the datasets were
not available in a form which could be linked.
Recommendations for scheme management
23. There is some evidence that the current low uptake of certain options may affect the
achievement of some scheme objectives (e.g. for farmland birds and other biodiversity), though
this evidence is currently limited. Acquisition of additional evidence on the effect of uptake
patterns on scheme objectives should therefore be regarded as a priority. Meanwhile, as a
precautionary measure, consideration should be given to methods of encouraging uptake of
less popular options, as part of the 2007 review of progress.
24. Guidance notes may not be the most appropriate way of providing advice on option
choice for the ELS and OELS within different JCAs. Carefully targeted advice provided through
farmer meetings, farm walks, short visits from advisers etc., (e.g. through the Conservation
Advice Programme) is likely to have more impact.
25. Feedback indicated that although the quality of telephone advice by Defra/NE had
improved, further improvements would be advantageous.
26. The targeting process for HLS should be reviewed in the light of comments received.
In particular, ways of strengthening the uniformity of approach to the HLS targeting process
across JCAs should be considered. Changes in the scoring system for agreements should be
carefully managed to ensure that they do not demotivate applicants through perceived ‘moving
of goalposts’.
27. There is a general view that the FEP, while useful, is too complex and detailed. Less
detail in lower priority areas could help to ensure a higher quality of recording in those of
high priority. Further information will be derived from the ongoing FEP evaluation and a full
assessment made in the light of this.
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28. For some features, better guidance is needed to ensure consistent recording on FERs/FEPs,
e.g. hedgerows vs. lines of trees. The requirement to record individual boundary trees should
be reviewed.
29. A regularly updated electronic version of the handbook would be useful, but hard copies
are still required for the many farmers with limited computing skills or facilities.
30. There is a significant gap between ELS/OELS and HLS. Emphasis on maintenance, lack
of capital works and the absence of options for some features (e.g. other features marked on
the FER, scrubby/boggy areas) in ELS and OELS, and the competitive nature of HLS may lead to
missed opportunities. Option availability under both schemes should be reviewed.
31. Specific recommendations include: modifying option descriptions for ditches in the
ELS/OELS handbooks to clarify rules on grazing; modifying the option for management of
woodland edges, or providing a combination option including buffer strips next to woodlands
in order to allow a wider buffer; more advice on identification of archaeological features and
inclusion of ridge and furrow; more guidance on choice of features for option implementation
in the handbooks.
Recommendations for further research
32. Further spatial analysis of a wider range of indicators would provide more information
on the environmental impact of the scheme in terms of geographical distribution of options.
Investigation of the mechanisms underlying links between the spatial distribution of options
and the target indicators could help to inform action to further improve option distribution.
33. It is suggested that a study could be carried out to produce estimates of optimal areas,
for a limited selection of key indicators where this is appropriate, and define the geographical
area over which the uptake of ELS options should be assessed, in order to allow improved
predictions of environmental impact to be made through the modelling process. Development
of an improved methodology for eliciting expert assessments would improve the accuracy of
the scores and reduce variability between assessors.
34. A modified model could be developed which takes the spatial location of options into
account for assessing the impact of uptake on water quality, through a series of local case
studies in target catchments.
35. It was not possible to assess the impact on landscape within this project, but a qualitative
assessment of the contribution of ELS/OELS to landscape conservation could be made by
relating option uptake to the JCA-level vision statements developed in the Countryside Quality
Counts project.
Introduction (Chapter 1)
36. Environmental Stewardship (ES) arose from the mid-term review of agri-environment
schemes in the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP). The report of the Policy
Commission on the Future of Food and Farming chaired by Sir Don Curry recommended that
a single new scheme should be introduced, incorporating a ‘broad and shallow’ scheme as
the lower tier (to include support for organic farming), plus an upper tier which should consist
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of rationalised elements of the existing schemes, and a whole-farm audit to identify the key
environmental assets of the farm. These recommendations were adopted by the Government,
and a pilot ‘entry level’ scheme was established in four areas during 2003. An organic entry
level scheme also arose out of Action Plan to Develop Organic Farming and Food in England
(recommendation No 18).
37. Following a successful evaluation, ES was launched in March 2005, with three strands:
Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), equating to Curry’s ‘broad and shallow’ proposal, Organic Entry
Level Stewardship (OELS), and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), replacing the former Countryside
Stewardship (CS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) schemes in England. ES does not
extend to the devolved administrations, which have their own agri-environment schemes.
38. In June 2005, the Central Science Laboratory was commissioned by Defra to undertake
an evaluation of the operation of Environmental Stewardship during its first two years. The
evaluation was structured into four modules: (1) analysis of uptake (statistical & spatial); (2)
a questionnaire survey of participants and non-participants; (3) delivery of environmental
outcomes; (4) holistic overview. The third module was divided into four sub-modules: (a):
validation of FERs and FEPs; (b): baseline environmental assessment of ELS/OELS; (c) stakeholder
survey; (d): modelling of environmental outcomes.
39. An additional survey of upland and lowland livestock farms was carried out in 2006, as
a result of stakeholder concern that farmers in the Less Favoured Areas were finding it more
difficult than their lowland counterparts to enter ES. This was reported separately3.
40. This is the final report of the evaluation, incorporating the full results of work carried out
between June 2005 and May 2007.
Analysis of uptake data (Chapter 2) methods
41. Scheme uptake, number of options per agreement, option uptake and average area of
each option per agreement as at 30 November 2006 were analysed by farm type and size,
region and presence or absence of a previous agreement under the CS or an ESA. It was agreed
by the steering group that presence or absence of an OFS agreement would not be included
as a factor, because it was expected that the majority of organic farmers would be members
of the OFS, and because of the low sample size of organic farmers. Analyses of option uptake
concentrated on ELS and OELS.
Results: scheme uptake
42. Areas in ELS, OELS and HLS at the end of November 2006 were around 3.5m ha, 167,000
ha and 66,000 ha respectively, equivalent to 64%, 49% and 33% of the target areas for the
end of 2007 respectively.
43. Highest levels of ELS uptake by area were in the Eastern region, followed by the South
West and the East Midlands. The lowest levels were in the North East and the North West. The
highest area of OELS, by far, was in the South West, with the lowest levels were in Yorkshire
and the Humber, and the North West. The South West, South East, North East and West
Midlands all had relatively similar areas in HLS, which were considerably higher than the areas
in the other regions.
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44. The East region had achieved the highest percentage of the target area for ELS+OELS,
having reached 81% by November 2006, followed by the East Midlands (77%), Yorkshire and
the Humber (72%), the North East (69%), the West Midlands and the South East (65%), the
South West (58%), and lastly, the North West (45%).
45. Overall, 12.4%. 0.5% and 0.5% by numbers and 37.4%, 1.6% and 1.4% by area of
holdings were in the ELS, OELS and HLS respectively. Regionally, the highest ELS uptake in terms
of percentages of both holding numbers and area was in the East, East Midlands and North
East, with lowest uptake in the South East, North West and South West. In contrast, regional
uptake of OELS was dominated by the South West, which contained 42% of the holdings in
OELS, and 39% of the total area, followed by the South East the East and the West Midlands.
Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, the East Midlands and the North West all had very
low percentages of OELS uptake. The greatest numbers and areas of farms in HLS in terms of
percentages were in the North East and West Midlands, with the lowest percentages in the
Yorks and Humber and the East regions.
46. Among farm types, cereals farmers had the largest numbers and area in ELS, both in
absolute and percentage terms. 36% of cereals farmers had entered the scheme, covering
48% of the area in this farm type. Similar levels were seen for general cropping farms (35%
and 46% respectively), followed by dairy farms (28% and 35%). Lowest percentage levels of
uptake in terms of numbers were by horticulture, specialist pigs, specialist poultry and ‘other’
farm types, though a quarter of specialist pig farms by area had entered the scheme. In terms
of farm size, just under half of holdings over 150ha, by both number and area, had entered
the scheme, compared to a third of holdings between 50 and 149ha, and only 4% (number)
or 10% (area) of farms smaller than 50ha. A greater proportion of farms with previous
agreements entered ELS than those without.
47. Uptake of the OELS in terms of numbers was greatest among mixed, dairy, general
cropping and cereals farms, and lowest among specialist pigs (none) and ‘other’ farm types,
followed by specialist poultry and Less Favoured Area (LFA) grazing livestock. In terms of area
however, percentage uptake was greatest among lowland grazing livestock farms, followed by
mixed and dairy farms. As with ELS, the highest percentage uptake by both numbers and area
was among large farms, followed by medium then small farms, and a greater proportion of
those with a previous agreement entered the scheme.
48. As with ELS, cereals farms dominated HLS uptake in absolute terms, representing 27% of
numbers and 40% of area in HLS. There were also large areas of general cropping and mixed
farms. However, highest uptake as a percentage of the total farms in each category, in terms
of both numbers and area, was by LFA grazing livestock farms (1.2% and 2.5% respectively),
with mixed farms second in terms of percentage area. Again, lowest uptake levels were among
specialist poultry and pig farms, horticulture and ‘other’ farm types.
49. The statistical analysis showed that holding size had the greatest effect on the probability
of a farm entering the ELS, followed by farm type, region and presence or absence of an earlier
agreement. However, the model only explained 26.3% of the variance, showing that other
factors are also important. 8 Highest probabilities of scheme entry were seen among large
farms, those with cereals, and farms in the North East. Holding size also had the greatest effect
on the probability of entering OELS, followed by region, farm type and presence/absence of
a previous agreement. For OELS however, the model explained even less of the variance, only
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Chapter 11: Appendices
14.8%. Small farms had a significantly lower probability of entering the scheme than medium
and large farms. Farms in the South West, South East and West Midlands were more likely
than those in other regions to enter the scheme, and dairy and mixed farms were more likely
to enter OELS than most other farm types. For HLS, the statistical analysis although indicating
significant effects of farm type, previous agreement and holding size, explained only 4.3% of
variance, so was inadequate for predicting uptake probabilities.
Results: option number
50. Both ELS and OELS agreements had similar numbers of options on average (7.3-7.5).
Agreements in the Eastern region generally had a higher number of options than in other
regions. Cereals and general cropping farms had the largest numbers of options in ELS
agreements, followed by mixed and dairy farms. Lowland and LFA grazing livestock and ‘other’
farm types had the smallest number of options on average, around half the number found on
cereals and general cropping farms. OELS option numbers were highest on mixed farms and
lowest on lowland grazing livestock and ‘other’ farm types, but total number of options in
OELS agreements (including ELS options) was highest for general cropping farms. For both ELS
and OELS agreements, the mean number of options per agreement increased with farm size.
51. HLS agreements had higher total numbers of options on average (15.9) than those in
ELS and OELS, though only 5.6 of these were HLS options. As for ELS, the highest average
number of options per agreement was found in the Eastern region. Among farm types, general
cropping, cereals and mixed farms had the greatest numbers of options. As for ELS and OELS,
the average number of options per agreement in all categories increased with farm size.
52. Holding size, farm type and region (in that order) explained 35% of the variation in
option number on ELS farms. Only farm size and region had a significant effect on the number
of OELS options taken up, explaining 20% of variance. For HLS, farm type, previous scheme
and farm size (in that order) had a significant effect on the number of HLS options taken,
explaining 18.6% of variance.
Results: ELS/OELS option uptake
53. Relatively few options were taken up by a large proportion of agreement holders, and
many options were taken up by very few. Of the 56 options available in ELS, only eight options
were adopted in more than 30%, and only 13 options in more than 20%, of ELS agreements.
Over half the options (32) were taken up by fewer than 5% of agreement holders, and 25
were adopted by less than 2%.
54. A similar pattern of option uptake was seen in OELS agreements. Out of 54 available
options, only five OELS options were adopted by more than 30%, and seven by more than
20% of OELS agreement holders. 30 options were taken up by fewer than 5% of agreement
holders, and 22 were adopted by less than 2%.
55. The most popular options were hedge, ditch or hedge and ditch management, protection
of in-field trees in grassland, field corner management on arable land, permanent grassland
with low or very low inputs outside Less Favoured Areas, and all four management plans.
Also relatively popular were protection of in-field trees on arable, 4m and 6m buffer strips on
cultivated land, and overwintered stubbles.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
56. The options with low uptake (less than 5% of agreements) included stone-faced
hedgebank management, most options to protect archaeological features, buffer strips on
intensive grassland and around ponds, wild bird seed mix or pollen and nectar mix on setaside, beetle banks, skylark plots, conservation headlands and uncropped cultivated margins
on arable land, all options to encourage a range of crop types, options to protect soils, and
most grassland options other than management of permanent grassland outside the LFAs,
inbye grassland in LFAs, and mixed stocking. However, it should be noted that some of these
options are only appropriate for certain farm types or regions.
Option uptake by farm type
57. Patterns of uptake by farm type were largely as expected. Hedgerow management, ditch
management, and combined hedge and ditch management options were widely taken up
across most farm types, though less so among lowland and LFA cattle and sheep farms. In
contrast, maintenance of woodland fences tended to be more popular on livestock and mixed
farms. Option EC1 (protection of in-field trees on arable land) was popular on arable and mixed
farm types, and also on dairy and specialist pig farms. The equivalent for grassland, option EC2,
was uniformly popular, even on crop dominated farm types.
58. Option ED5 (archaeological features on grassland) was the most popular of the options
for protection of archaeological features, particularly on LFA land. Buffer strip options were
more widely taken up on holdings dominated by cropping enterprises than dairy, cattle or
sheep farms. 6m buffer strips were also popular among specialist pig producers.
59. Option EF1 (field corner management on arable land) was the most widely taken up of
the options specifically intended for arable land, though the equivalent option for grassland
farmers was less popular.
60. Options EK2 (permanent grassland with low inputs) and EK3 (permanent grassland with
very low inputs); were taken up by high proportions of crop dominated farm types and mixed
farms, as well as lowland livestock farms. The equivalent upland options were widely adopted
on LFA farms.
61. All the management plan options were widely adopted.
62. Patterns were broadly similar among OELS agreements, though uptake levels for many
options were lower than in the ELS. Uptake of option OG1 (undersown spring cereals) was
higher overall, and particularly on dairy, mixed, horticulture, cereals and general cropping
farms, than for ELS.
Option uptake by region
63. Uptake of hedgerow management and ditch options were highest in eastern regions.
Protection of in-field trees on grassland and maintenance of woodland fences were highest
in the North West. Options for buffer strips on cultivated land, field corner management on
arable land and other arable options were most popular in the East, though overwintered
stubbles were more generally distributed.
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Chapter 11: Appendices
64. Percentage uptake of permanent grassland with low inputs reached around 50% in
the West Midlands, South West, and South East, but only 23% in the East. Options for the
uplands (EL1-6) were all highest in the North East, followed by North West and Yorkshire and
the Humber.
65. Uptake patterns for soil, nutrient and crop protection management plans were all greatest
in the East, followed by the East Midlands, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber and
lower in the North East, North West and South West. Uptake of manure management plans
was more similar between regions, but slightly lower in the East and South East.
66. Analysis of uptake data for the OELS is difficult in view of the large regional differences
in numbers of OELS participants and very low numbers in some regions. For those options with
higher levels of uptake, patterns were broadly similar in most cases. Uptake of undersown
spring cereals (option OG1) reached around 10% in all eastern regions except Yorkshire and
the Humber.
Additional results and discussion
67. Maps are provided showing amounts of option per agreement, and option distribution
by Joint Character Area (section 2.3.3.5).
68. Those farm types with higher numbers of options were more likely to choose options
such as buffer strips, field corner management, wild bird seed mixture and over-wintered
stubbles. When giving reasons for choosing these options, ‘high points score’ was more likely
to feature than for the more generally popular options. This suggests that these farms (largely
arable and pig farms) may have found it more difficult to achieve their points target with ‘easy’
options, and looked for those which they considered had high points allocations to reach their
threshold. Where equivalent options were available for grassland, percentage uptake was lower,
suggesting that livestock farmers may have found it easier to meet their points targets.
Spatial analysis (Chapter 3)
69. Unlike HLS, ELS/OELS has no targeting mechanism, other than guidance leaflets which
farmers are encouraged, but not obliged, to read. This section considers the spatial distribution
of selected options in relation to scheme objectives for historic features, resource protection,
and biodiversity. Organic options were excluded from the analyses because the results might
have differed from those for ELS, but there were too few farms available for a separate analysis;
also organic farms have an uneven distribution across the country which would have skewed
the results of such an analysis.
Historic and archaeological features
70. Distribution of sites in the Selected National Heritage Dataset (SNHD) was related to
options for historic and landscape features ED2-5. Using a GIS, circles, or ‘buffers’ were created
around each historic site listed, and the proportion of ED options falling within each of these
buffers was then determined.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
71. Ten percent of ELS options ED 2-5 were within 200m of an historic site. There is a high
chance that these options are located on sites referred to in the database. Three percent of
the sites in the database were within 200m of ELS options for historic and landscape features.
21% of ELS options for historic and landscape features were within 500m of an historic site,
and 6% of historic sites on the database were within 500m of relevant options.
72. There was a significant positive relationship between the uptake of options ED and the
number of sites in each 10km2 cell in England, however it only accounted for 4% of the
variance, indicating that there is therefore little influence of the density of sites in the SNHD
on the number of relevant options that are taken up in an area. In some areas, archaeological/
historic sites not in the SNHD are apparently being protected, in others uptake of ED* options
is low even though the SNHD indicates a high density of monuments. It is not clear to what
extent this is because farmers are unaware of the presence of SNHD sites on their land.
However, because the SNHD is not a fully comprehensive database, this does not mean that
ELS is not achieving its objectives for the historic environment; however, if it is assumed that
SNHD sites are the most important, some method of targeting these options (e.g. through
provision of advice) could be beneficial.
Resource protection
73. River Risk Assessment data were obtained from the Environment Agency. Catchment
risk levels (‘high’, ‘moderate’, ‘low’ or ‘none’) for diffuse pollution by phosphorus, nitrogen,
sediment and pesticides/sheep dip were spatially related to uptake of relevant options, from
among 6m buffer strips on cultivated land (EE3), management of high erosion risk cultivated
land (EJ1), and the four management plans for soil (EM1) nutrients (EM2), manure (EM3) and
crop protection (EM4). Maps were constructed to show the risk to rivers from these pollutants.
For the same catchments, the uptake of relevant ELS options was also mapped, and compared
with the risk level.
74. A statistically significantly higher proportion of all relevant options (EE3, EJ1, EM1, 2
and 3) than expected by chance, was located in areas of medium or high risk for phosphorus.
Options EM3 and EJ1 had the highest percentage of locations in medium/high risk catchments,
and option EE3 the lowest.
75. A higher proportion (around two-thirds) of options EE3, EM2 and EM3 than expected by
chance was also located in catchments at risk of diffuse pollution by nitrogen (around one-third
of catchments). The difference was statistically significant in all cases.
76. For sediment, only option EJ1 had a significantly greater density in catchments at medium
or high risk than expected by chance; options EE3 and EM1 showed no significant relationship
with risk of pollution by sediment.
77. The Environment Agency data combine risks for pesticides and sheep dip, though these
occur on different farm types in different parts of the country and arise through different
mechanisms. The options tested might be expected to affect pollution by pesticides, but are
unlikely to influence pollution by sheep dip. However, significant spatial relationships were
still detected between the distribution of options EE3 and EM4, indicating a greater density in
catchments at medium or high risk than expected by chance.
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Arable flora
78. Data on the distribution of arable flora were provided by Plantlife, as scores per JCA.
The scores were assigned using a system based on the degree of threat experienced by each
species. Survey data were then used to determine 12 species occurrence in each JCA, and the
scores for each species present were summed to provide a total score for the JCA.
79. The distribution of three options were examined in relation to arable plant score: EF11
(6m uncropped, cultivated margin on arable land, considered to be the key option to encourage
arable flower species), EF10 (conservation headlands in cereal fields with no fertilisers or
manure, also considered to be of high value for arable flora) and EF9 (conservation headlands
in cereal fields). The area of each option per JCA was calculated using a GIS, and the results
mapped. The relationship between the area of relevant options and floral score in each JCA
was investigated through linear regression analysis.
80. There were significant logarithmic relationships between the JCA option area(s) and Floral
index per JCA, accounting for between 32 and 35% of the variance. Considering that there
is no positive targeting, this is a remarkably good relationship. Advice provided by FWAG in
certain counties probably influenced the distribution of options, though the counties where it
was provided do not correlate particularly well with the mapped distribution.
Birds (Skylark and Yellowhammer)
81. The benefits of ELS options in terms of nesting cover, summer foraging and winter
foraging resources for skylark and yellowhammer were assigned, based on the scores provided
by the RSPB and BTO. Data from the 2005 Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) were provided by the BTO
for skylark and yellowhammer. Buffers were created around the bird survey sites with radii of
2.5km and 5km The proportion of ELS farms with the relevant option combinations to provide
all three requirements (nesting, summer foraging and winter foraging habitats) falling within
these buffer were then determined. Presence or absence of skylarks and yellowhammers for
each of these points were associated with the area inside the 2.5 or 5km radius buffers.
82. Yellowhammers were present across most of the lowlands of England but not in the
uplands. Farms choosing options which provide the habitat requirements of yellowhammers
were significantly more likely to be in an area where yellowhammers were present.
83. Skylarks were found across most of England, with no readily discernable pattern
of occurrence. As for yellowhammers, farms choosing options which provide the habitat
requirements of skylarks were significantly more likely to be in an area where skylarks were
present.
84. There was no relationship between numbers of yellowhammers or skylarks and ELS area
of farms with at least one option in each of the three habitats for each species. Thus, although
farms with relevant options were more likely to be in areas where skylarks or yellowhammers
were present, the area of those farms in ELS was not related to the density of either of these
species.
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Discussion
85. In conclusion, despite the apparent ignorance of, or indifference to guidance notes
revealed by the participant questionnaire (chapter 4), there was evidence of relationships
between uptake of appropriate options and species or features of environmental and policy
significance in most of the cases examined. This was particularly evident for rare arable flora,
for diffuse pollution of rivers by nitrates and phosphates, and occurrence of yellowhammers
and skylarks.
86. It appears that options are to some extent being targeted to areas where they are most
appropriate, and at least for diffuse pollution and arable flora, it seems probable that local
advisory programmes had some influence on the observed distribution of options. Further work
to identify the mechanisms determining spatial distribution could help to enable greater spatial
targeting of options without the adoption of an explicit targeting process as adopted for the
Higher Level Scheme. Further spatial analysis, using additional datasets and considering a wider
range of options, could provide valuable insights into option distribution and, in conjunction
with analysis of factors affecting this distribution, provide pointers as to how spatial distribution
of options could be improved through advice and/or incentives in future.
Survey of ELS/OELS participants (Chapter 4) introduction and
methods
87. A questionnaire survey of ELS and OELS participants was undertaken to evaluate opinions
of the scheme, impact on the environment, helpfulness of guidance and reasons for choosing
specific options.
88. A postal questionnaire was sent to a sample of participants in five sample windows
representing agreement start dates between August 2005 and August 2006 to assess any
changes in participant experience between the launch of the new scheme and after a period
of establishment. The sample was stratified by previous agreement status and the ELS sample
was also stratified by farm type. A subset of those who responded to the postal questionnaire
was visited to establish in more detail their motivation for choosing or not choosing options
and the impact on their farm. A total of 491 postal returns were received and 333 farms
were visited. Differences between postal and interview responses may relate to the fact that
the postal survey questions were asked in terms of the agreement as a whole, whereas the
interview questions were structured by specific options.
Results – postal questionnaire
89. Most participants who had a previous agri-environment agreement had been in the CS.
Fifteen percent of ELS participants had been in ESAs, but the proportion may increase over
time, since current whole-farm ESA agreements preclude entry into ES. A total of 36% of OELS
participants stated that they had been in OFS, but this may have been an underestimate.
90. Awareness of all three strands of the ES scheme was high, with the Defra handbooks,
leaflets and workshops and the farming press the most important sources of information. The
Defra website was much less commonly used than other Defra advisory sources.
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91. CAP reform had influenced more ELS (54%) than OELS (41%) participants to enter the
scheme. Generally, financial pressures were the most commonly cited effects of CAP reform
with a number specifying the need to recoup money lost through modulation.
92. The purpose of the ES scheme was almost universally perceived to be environmental.
93. Support for the ES scheme was generally very high, although only 83% of Dairy farmers
were supportive. Reasons for supporting the scheme were either 5 The OELS sample was
not stratified by farm type because it was too small for meaningful comparisons to be made
within sub-categories. 14 that it was a benefit to farming (including financial reasons) or that
it benefited the environment/conservation.
94. Nearly 40% of participants were aware of fields at risk of soil erosion and over half would
manage them differently, although good practice was most commonly quoted as the method
of differential management.
95. The main reason for applying for ELS/OELS (51%) was that it was compatible with existing
practices, although this was more likely for OELS (61%) than ELS (49%) participants. However,
overall an encouraging 45% of participants quoted the environmental benefits and financial
considerations were mentioned by 38%. Mixed and LFA farmers were most likely to indicate
that ELS was compatible with existing practices (63 – 66%); Cereal, General cropping and Dairy
participants were least likely to feel that the scheme was compatible (37 – 43%).
96. The benefits to the environment/conservation and financial support were seen as the
most positive aspect of the scheme by both ELS and OELS participants. ELS participants from
Cereal and General cropping farms were most likely to cite environmental benefits, whereas
LFA participants were most likely to quote the financial benefits, probably reflecting the
relatively marginal financial footing of these farms. The most negative aspect of the scheme
was the bureaucracy (35%) but the restrictions/inflexibility of the scheme prescriptions were
mentioned by 18% overall.
97. A significant minority (23% of both ELS and OELS participants) thought that they
would encounter difficulties through the course of their agreement. The nature of perceived
problems were enforcement and the inflexibility of the scheme given the need for farming to
adapt to circumstances, therefore further advice would only help if there was flexibility in the
interpretation of scheme prescriptions.
98. Only 2% of ELS participants had applied online, although this facility was only available
as a pilot to a small proportion of ELS participants and not to OELS participants. One third of
respondents would have applied online if this facility had been available. However the majority
of participants felt that they lacked either the skills or the equipment to apply online.
99. Most respondents referred to the environmental information map and guidance notes,
although less than half of participants found them useful. Some were simply overwhelmed by
the volume of information.
100. The level of detail describing the management requirements for each option was
generally considered appropriate, although some options would benefit from further guidance
and 26% of participants had rung Defra for clarification. The most common difficulties were
the classification of outgrown or gappy hedges and wet ditches.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
101. Generally, participants found the FER easy to complete, although hedge/boundary tree
classification, the scale of maps, the need to map individual trees and the range of colours
required were criticised. Over half of all participants had considered, but did not mark all
features, despite the requirement to include all features in the FER. These were most frequently
traditional buildings and individual trees. Generally, features had not been marked because
they were not associated with an option and were therefore not considered relevant or that
individual trees were too difficult to count, although some may have misunderstood the
question.
102. The options map was also generally considered easy to complete, although some criticised
the scale of maps, range of colours required and combining features.
103. There was no relationship between farm size and the time taken to complete the
application. On average, OELS participants took longer (16.3 hours) to complete the office
based element of the application than ELS participants (9.7 hours), perhaps reflecting the need
to complete both OELS and ELS forms where both types of land were present on the holding.
General cropping participants took longest to complete the application (24 hours and LFA – DA
participants completed the forms most quickly (10 hours). Measuring features and counting
trees were the most time-consuming field exercises; mapping and general paperwork were the
most laborious office based tasks.
104. Overall only 63% of participants had completed the application themselves. A greater
proportion of OELS participants with a previous agreement had completed the forms but those
ELS/OELS participants applying in August 2006 were more likely to have had their applications
completed by a third party than at the scheme launch, perhaps reflecting the increase in
availability of agents offering this service.
105. Meetings held by Defra and Defra telephone and helpline advice were the most commonly
used sources of advice. Meetings were generally thought to be helpful, but telephone advice
was rated as poor by 23% and the helpline by 35% of ELS participants. However, there were
significant improvements in the quality of advice over time. The website was used by a greater
proportion of participants in August 2006 compared to August 2005 and the quality also
improved over time. Participants considered access to Defra staff by telephone to be the most
useful source of future advice.
106. After the first year of the scheme, participants were generally satisfied with the provision
of advice. Meetings and telephone contact were considered most helpful in the early stages of
the scheme, but participants were most likely to require access to Defra staff by telephone in
the future at least in part to clarify issues as circumstances changed.
107. Almost all participants had read at least some of the handbook; 86% of ELS and 96%
of OELS participants understood their legal obligations. Section 3 was considered the most
useful part of the handbook. The graphics were generally useful, although photographs were
considered less useful than diagrams and maps.
108. The impact of the scheme was considered most important for wildlife and landscape. At
the farm scale the impact on the historic environment was rated lowest of all environmental
issues, probably reflecting the relatively low uptake of archaeology and historic options. The
impact of the scheme on environmental objectives was universally perceived as more important
at the national scale than at the individual farm level. This may be a function of option
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Chapter 11: Appendices
choice, a feeling that as an individual the impact is small or because there is recognition that
environmental issues do not relate to the farm scale.
109. At a national level, OELS participants generally related the environmental benefits higher
than ELS participants. ELS participants with a previous agreement were more likely to consider
ES as very important for wildlife and landscape than those new to agri-environment schemes.
General cropping participants were most positive about the impact of the scheme on water
quality and soil erosion, presumably reflecting the prevalence of high risk crops on these farms.
Dairy farmers were least likely to rate the wildlife and landscape benefits of the scheme as
important. Landscape impacts were most highly rated by LFA – SDA participants. Cereal and
General cropping participants rated the impact on the historic environment was rated lowest
reflecting the lack of historic features (or knowledge of them) and the consequently low uptake
of archaeological and historic options on arable land.
110. Two thirds of respondents thought that participation in the scheme would have some
impact on their farming system. Cereal farmers were most likely to consider the scheme would
require changes, but this group are most likely to have entered the scheme (paragraph46). This
may reflect a more business orientated attitude in this group. Most participants (80% of ELS
and 88% OELS) thought that the payment rates would cover implementation costs. Of ELS
participants, General cropping and Dairy farms were most confident of recouping their costs,
whereas Lowland grazing, Other and LFA – SDA farmers were most likely to suggest that their
costs would not be covered.
111. Although a majority of participants thought it was too early to decide if they would renew
their agreement after five years, an encouraging 37% of ELS and 47% of OELS participants
had already decided to renew their agreement. Those with a previous agreement and those in
the LFA were most likely to consider renewing. Cereal and Dairy participants were most likely
to indicate that it was too early to decide, which may reflect a greater uncertainty for these
sectors of the industry.
112. When asked in general terms in the postal questionnaire about their reasons for selecting
the range of options on the holding, the most common reasons were that the features were
already in place or that it was the most straightforward way of meeting their points target.
Environmental benefits were also important in the overall choice of options. Cereal and
General cropping participants were least likely to have features already in place, perhaps
reflecting the low density of boundary features, but most likely to consider gross margins. A
higher proportion of General cropping farms considered water quality and soil erosion. LFA
participants were least likely to be motivated by the wildlife benefit, but more positive about
the benefits to the historic environment and landscape. These perceptions are directly related
to option uptake; a higher proportion of LFA participants had selected ED5 (archaeological
features on grassland) and stone walls. Given that these types of features would be more likely
to be seen to have an impact on the landscape or historic environment, it is not surprising that
participants in the LFA were more likely to be motivated by these factors than participants in
other areas.
113. Suggestions for additional options that could be included in a future scheme centred
around new options for features marked on the FER which needed to be retained (e.g.
woodland, ponds, streams and hedgerow trees) and capital works. A small but important
number of respondents mentioned the gap between ELS/OELS and HLS, highlighting the fact
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
that the emphasis of ELS/OELS on maintenance of existing features and the competitive nature
of HLS (where capital works are only available) risks many features falling between schemes
with the risk of their condition deteriorating.
114. Responses to the postal questionnaire indicated that the points allocation for boundary
features (particularly stone walls) and trees/woodland were most likely to be considered too
low.
115. Organic participants overwhelmingly supported government conversion aid payments
and generally considered OELS as an appropriate method of aid payments.
Results – interview questionnaire
116. Overall, 40% of ELS/OELS participants anticipated applying for HLS, although unsurprisingly
those with a previous agreement were more likely to apply for HLS (58%) than those new to
agri-environment schemes (21%). ELS/OELS participants were most often waiting until the end
of an existing agreement or needed more information before applying for HLS. Participants
from Lowland grazing and Mixed farms were most likely to feel that they would not gain entry
into a competitive HLS scheme.
117. Over half of all participants stated that they found the FER process useful, but additional
comments on the process indicated that half of respondents had used an agent and one third
had already chosen their options before completing the FER.
118. Participants were asked about their motivation for choosing each of their options.
Similar to the general comments about option choice, the most common answers were that
the management or feature was already in place or the fact that the option was easy to do.
However, a high points score was also fairly important, whereas relatively few were motivated
by the fact that it was positive for the environment. This suggests that, although participants
appreciate the environmental benefits of the scheme, individual option choice is determined by
business considerations. However, the outcome remains positive for the environment.
119. Boundary features were usually chosen because the management was already in place
(98% of stone walls) or the feature was present, but they were also considered easy to do.
In-field trees on grassland were considered straightforward although only one fifth were already
complying with the management prescriptions. Most (at least 80%) low input grasslands
were already being managed according to the prescriptions. Two thirds of manure and crop
protection management plans were already in place, whereas a much smaller proportion of soil
and nutrient management plans already existed.
120. Overall 61% of options entered into the scheme were being managed to meet the
ES prescriptions before being entered into the scheme. OELS participants were more likely
to be already meeting the requirements than ELS participants. Options chosen by General
cropping, Mixed and Cereal participants were least likely to be managed to meet the scheme
prescriptions prior to entering the scheme. Those chosen by LFA – SDA farmers were more
likely to be meeting the scheme prescriptions before entry.
121. Similar to results from the postal survey, options were considered to have greatest benefit
to wildlife and landscape overall. OELS participants were more positive about the benefits of
options for boundary features than ELS farmers reflecting previous responses to the scheme as
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Chapter 11: Appendices
a whole. Ditch management, buffer strips, field margins and field corners on arable land were
all recognised as beneficial for water quality. Only stone walls were generally thought to have
particular historic benefit, although options specifically targeted at the historic environment
were rare.
122. Individual options were generally regarded as having no impact on the farm business
(79%) reflecting the lack of management change required for many options or the positive
financial impact of less intensive management. Cereal farmers were most likely to suggest that
there would be an impact on the business.
123. Over half of the options chosen were considered to have an appropriate points allocation,
although nearly a third of respondents thought the points were irrelevant to their choice of
option. Those who had a previous agri-environment scheme were more likely to consider the
points allocation too low compared to those new to agri-environment schemes.
124. Farmers were asked about their reasons for not choosing a selection of options. The
most common reasons for not choosing specific options were that other options were simply
more attractive or that the feature was not present. Around one fifth of options had not been
chosen because the points target had already been met and 10% had chosen a similar option.
An absence of opportunity (e.g. feature not present, no cultivated land, specific crop not
grown) was given for over 40% of options as the reason for not choosing options. Low points
allocation and difficulties of implementation were rarely reasons for not choosing options.
Conclusion
125. There was a high level of support for ELS/OELS amongst participants and most understood
the purpose of the schemes, although the benefits to wildlife and landscape are considered
more important than the other environmental objectives. The impact of the scheme on
environmental objectives was universally perceived as more important at a national scale than
at the farm level, perhaps because many individuals had not entered options addressing all
the objectives. Compatibility with existing practices encouraged many to enter ELS/OELS but
many also entered for environmental reasons. Although there was considerable criticism of the
volume of paperwork involved and the amount of information to assimilate the application
process was not considered difficult. However a relatively large proportion of participants did
not complete the application themselves.
126. Generally participants selected options that either required least change in management
or were easy to do, although cereal farmers were most likely to consider that the scheme would
require change and would have an impact on the business. Overall, 61% of features entered
were already being managed to meet the scheme prescriptions, suggesting that a significant
proportion of ES payments are supporting existing good management, which is an element of
ELS/OELS. Most participants thought that the scheme as a whole would have some impact on
their farming system, but a high proportion thought that the costs of implementation would
be covered by the payment.
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Survey of HLS participants (Chapter 5) introduction & methods
127. A postal survey was sent to all HLS agreement holders with agreement start dates of
1 February and 1 May 2006. From the 136 questionnaire returns, 100 respondents were
selected for a further interview survey. The sample was stratified by previous agreement status,
but due to the low number of questionnaire returns it was not possible to stratify by robust
farm type or agreement start date.
Results
128. Conservation and protecting the environment were reported as the main aims of ES and
were also the principle reasons for applying to join HLS. Many previous agreement holders also
regarded HLS as a continuation of their previous agri-environment scheme and management
plans were often already in place.
129. Participants were most commonly made aware about HLS from non-Defra advisers and
consultants and the farming press. Of the sources of information provided by Defra, the
handbook was the most common source of information and the website least popular. Defra
advisers were used more by those with a previous agreement. It was perhaps surprising that
Defra advisers were not more prominent, however, participants may have been considering
being made aware of the schemes initially when answering this question.
130. Previous agreement holders were more likely to enter their whole farm into HLS; a higher
proportion of those with no previous agreement stated that they did not want to enter their
whole farm. Also, those respondents who owned their farm were more likely to enter into HLS
than those who were tenants or with rented land.
131. Financial reward and the benefit to conservation were reported as being the most positive
aspects of the scheme, whereas the amount and complexity of the paperwork involved were
seen as negative aspects. RLR Mapping problems and delays in the start of the scheme were
perceived as barriers to entering HLS.
132. Almost half of respondents had difficulty obtaining an application form and maps. Forty
percent of those who completed these parts themselves found the process difficult. However,
those with no previous agreement found the application process more difficult and took longer
to complete the process, probably because they were less familiar with the type of features and
management required by agri-environment schemes.
133. Only 16% of respondents completed their own FEP. The FEP document was perceived
as being easy to understand and was useful for giving a greater appreciation of existing farm
features, identifying new features and highlighting which options to enter. Negative comments
about the FEP included the complexity of the FEP process and the amount of detail required.
134. The main reasons given for choosing options were to increase wildlife and that features
were already in place. The least likely reason for choosing an option was that it made crop
management easier. Previous agreement holders from the postal questionnaire often cited
management already being in place as a reason for their option choices. However, the visit
interviews indicated that suggestions made by RDS and agents were the main reasons for
selecting options.
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Chapter 11: Appendices
135. The FEP and the target statements were used by over 50% of respondents for making
option choices; almost all found them to be useful. The Environmental Information Map was
reported to be least useful. Other sources of information, such as advisers, agents and websites,
were more likely to be used by those new to agri-environment schemes.
136. Access options were more likely to be undertaken by those with no previous agreement;
the presence of existing footpaths and public access was the most commonly cited reason for
not choosing to do these options.
137. Most respondents were undertaking capital works, mainly because they were considered
necessary for option management and they benefited farm management.
138. About 40% of postal respondents wanted to see other options included in the HLS
scheme. Suggested options included ponds, access and upland. Options 20 covering many of
the features suggested are currently available but not enough detail was given by respondents
to determine precisely what was wanted or what was felt to be missing from the present
scheme.
139. Only interview respondents were asked about the management required for their options.
For a third of options chosen the required management was already being undertaken whereas
for 64% new management was required. Previous agreement holders were more likely to be
currently using the prescribed management for their option choices.
140. RDS advisers were regarded as a useful source of information about ES and HLS during
the application process. Meetings held by Defra staff and telephone contact with RDS staff
were both used by over 70% of postal respondents. The same proportion found the advice
helpful. The Defra website was used by only 26% of respondents with a third finding the
advice poor. Almost all sources of advice were more likely to be used by those with no previous
agreement.
141. Discussions held during the agreement visit were considered to be very useful by 70% of
respondents. After these discussions some changes usually had to be made to the agreement;
for 80% of respondents these changes involved the choice of option or the number and
amount of options, though for most the degree of change was only slight. The location of
options and the inclusion of capital works required less change, with 40% of respondents
reporting no change at all. Generally, a higher proportion of those with a previous agreement
had to make no alterations to their agreement.
142. RDS advisers were also regarded as an important source of support and advice about
option management, though particularly by those with no previous agreement.
143. As a source of advice over the life of the agreement, access to RDS staff on the telephone
was regarded as being most useful, followed by farm visits. In particular, contact with a single
named adviser was mentioned by many respondents. A newsletter sent by email was perceived
as being the least useful source of advice in the future.
144. The scheme handbooks were used to some extent by almost all respondents during the
application process. The HLS handbook was regarded as a useful source of guidance when
making option choices and for option management. It appeared to be particularly useful for
those with no prior experience of an agri-environment scheme.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
145. At least 90% of respondents understood all or most of each of the seven sections that
make up the agreement document. For all parts, at least a fifth of respondents felt that some
improvements could be made; this increased to 40% for the Part 2 summary of options,
points payments and payments schedule. Suggested improvements to the agreement included
improving the layout, giving clearer details on claim procedures, reducing its size and presenting
it as a bound reference document.
146. Concerns about the scheme were mainly connected to financial aspects, in particular,
that the costs of the FEP, and of implementing the scheme would not be covered by the
payments, and that the costs of capital works would not be met due to rising labour and
material costs. Eighty-seven percent of postal respondents stated that the payment rates
for some options were too low. However, responses from the visits were more positive with
payments being considered as correct or even generous for 74% of options chosen although
one third of options did not require any change in management. The difference reflects the fact
that postal responses relate to the agreement as a whole, while at visits, farmers were asked
about individual options.
147. Most respondents felt able to achieve some or all of their indicators of success and
were fairly or completely certain of delivering what was required for their chosen options.
Circumstances beyond their control, such as the weather, were perceived to be the main
problems that could affect option delivery.
148. Eighty-five percent of postal respondents stated that their HLS agreement as a whole
would demand a degree of change to their farming system. The proportion of previous
agreement holders reporting an impact was lower than for those without a previous agreement.
Most postal questionnaires were followed up with an interview where respondents were asked
about the impact of each option chosen; only 31% of individual options were considered to
have an effect on the farm business.
Conclusion
149. Overall, general comments reported by respondents indicated that the scheme was
complex and involved too much paperwork, but that ES would be good for the environment
and agriculture.
Non-participant survey (Chapter 6) introduction & methods
150. Questionnaires were sent to a sample of farmers who had not entered ES in the autumn
of 2005 and 2006 to evaluate perceptions of the scheme soon after its launch and after a
period of establishment. The sample was stratified by previous agreement status and farm type,
although populations for some of these groupings were small.
Results
151. A total of 264 questionnaires were returned from individuals who had not entered ES,
but 182 indicated that they intended to apply for the scheme in the future. This population
is reported separately from those who did not intend to apply because they may have very
different views of the scheme. A higher proportion of the 2006 sample did not intend to
apply, probably reflecting the fact that the proportion of those intending to enter the scheme
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Chapter 11: Appendices
will decrease over time. In contrast, those with a previous agreement were more likely to be
intending to enter ES in 2006 than 2005.
152. There was a threshold farm size, below which farmers considered it was not worth
entering ES, but this threshold varied with farm type and was particularly small on LFA farms,
where marginal economics of the enterprise meant that all income is important.
153. Respondents who owned their whole holding were a little less likely to intend to enter ES
than others. The reasons for this are unclear, but it may be that financial considerations were
less important or because they did not want outside interference.
154. Generally, those who intended to apply were more environmentally aware than those
who would not apply. A higher proportion of the former population had conducted crop
protection management plans, participated in assurance schemes, undertaken conservation
work not covered by an agri-environment agreement and recognised agricultural pesticides
and soil erosion and runoff as important pollution issues.
155. All respondents with registered organic land intended to enter the scheme.
156. Awareness of all aspects of the ES scheme was high even amongst those who did
not intend to apply. The farming press, Defra handbooks and Defra leaflets were the most
commonly used sources of information.
157. CAP reform had influenced the decision to apply for ES for 45% of those who intended
to apply (and was a more important factor in 2005 than 2006), but only 12% of those who
did not. Half of those intending to apply cited the financial effects of CAP reform, including
the need to recoup money lost through modulation.
158. Support for ES was widespread, with half of those not intending to apply and 90%
of those who would enter the scheme supporting its funding. Over half of all respondents
recognised the environmental or conservation benefits (or the funding of environmental work),
although some were sceptical about the aims of the scheme.
159. Unsurprisingly most respondents (81%) intended to apply for ES, including all ten of
those who had registered organic land. Overall 15% intended to apply for HLS, including 9%
of those who had no previous agri-environment agreement. Nearly half intended to apply
within three months.
160. Those who intended to enter ES generally had different reasons for not currently
participating in the scheme from those who would not apply. The latter group were more
likely to have fundamental objections (e.g. lack of interest, length of commitment), whereas
many of those who intended to apply had simply not had time (e.g. Single Payment Scheme
more important) or had been delayed in their application by bureaucratic issues (e.g. mapping
problems, RLR/IACS 22 issues).
161. Nearly half of previous agreement holders who intended to apply quoted an existing
scheme as a reason for not currently participating in ES. Some could not have or did not want
two schemes on their land, but others misunderstood the relationship between ES and CSS.
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Stakeholder survey (Chapter 7) Introduction & Methods
162. This survey, conducted in November and December 2006, aimed to capture the views of
key stakeholders on the operation and management of ES during its initial stages. A list of 33
organisations was drawn up to represent the range of interests associated with the scheme, and
representatives of each were contacted and asked to complete a web-based questionnaire.
163. Twenty–two responses were received. Only one response was received from an organic
organisation, so this was combined with farmers organisations in the analysis. There were two
responses from statutory agencies, five from local/regional regulatory authority organisations
(mostly national park authorities), seven from non-Government conservation organisations,
four from farmers organisations, and four from advisory organisations. As most stakeholders
questioned were involved in developing the scheme, comments reflect their views on its
operation during the first two years rather than the design of the scheme itself.
Results
164. More respondents thought that the pattern of option uptake was unsatisfactory than
satisfactory, including all those from conservation NGOs, though all farmers organisations
thought it was satisfactory. In ELS/OELS, uptake of boundary options was generally thought
to be good, but opinions varied in relation to buffer strips, options to protect historic and
archaeological features, and management plans, and uptake of a range of options was felt
to be too low by some respondents. For the HLS, many comments related to the scheme as a
whole, some believing that the uptake of the scheme itself was too low.
ELS/OELS
165. More respondents felt that ELS would make a minor contribution to biodiversity
objectives than a major one, but results for OELS were more evenly balanced. For both, local/
regional authorities and conservation organisations were less positive than farmer and advisory
organisations. Results for impact on landscape objectives were fairly balanced, but a majority
of organisations thought that the ELS and OELS would make only a minor contribution towards
targets for resource protection and the historic environment.
166. When asked for which options they would like to see higher uptake, none favoured
increased uptake of options for boundary (hedge, ditch, stone wall) management, protection of
in-field trees on grassland, maintenance of woodland fences or management of woodland edges.
In general, support was given to options for historic and landscape features, buffer strips, options
for arable land and options to encourage a range of crop types, and options for LFA land.
167. Five organisations thought there should be lower uptake of hedgerow or boundary
options, and two mentioned management plans.
168. Six respondents, five of which were conservation NGOs, thought that points were too high
for hedgerow options, and some thought they were too high for ditch management options.
Higher points allocations were favoured by some for stone wall protection and maintenance,
grassland options in the LFA, options to protect soils, protection of in-field trees, options for
historic and landscape features, and various arable options. In some cases these were options
for which the organisations wanted higher uptake, but more often they felt that the points
were insufficient in relation to costs of the option.
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169. Only three organisations thought any options should be removed. A large range of
additional options was proposed for inclusion in the ELS, including some capital options.
170. Most stakeholders thought that the quality of agreements was ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’.
Conservation NGOs were the least enthusiastic, and farmers organisations were most positive
among the organisation types.
171. Equal numbers of respondents felt that sufficient advice was, or was not, available (cf.
paragraph 182). A more detailed handbook and more input from Natural England officers were
among suggestions as possible improvements.
172. Fifteen organisations were happy with the ELS and OELS handbooks, but six thought they
could be improved.
173. Most thought Environmental Information Maps were satisfactory, except for local/
regional authority organisations, 4 out of 5 of which thought they could be improved. Among
suggestions for improvement were inclusion of the farm boundary on the map, proposed by
three respondents.
174. Most thought that the amount of information requested on the FER was about right.
Only 5 out of 19 thought that there were features that did not need to be recorded on the
FER, and the same number thought that additional features should be recorded.
175. Ten respondents felt that targeting guidance leaflets were satisfactory, but 7 felt they
were not. Suggestions for improvement included greater consistency between JCAs, more
detail including value of options for key species, habitats, landscape character etc. However,
two thought that few farmers read them.
176. All stakeholders were happy with the content and layout of the application form except
local/regional authority organisations, none of whom responded positively.
177. Most organisations who expressed an opinion thought that the payment rates were
about right outside the LFA, but too low in the LFA. Most further comments related to LFA
payments; incentives for small farms were also mentioned.
HLS
178. Most respondents thought that the HLS would make a major contribution to wildlife
conservation, but only ten thought it would make a major contribution to the landscape. Views
were evenly divided over its contribution to resource protection, historic environment and flood
protection objectives, but most thought there would only be a minor impact for access and
genetic resources.
179. When asked for which options would they like to see higher uptake, a large number were
identified by one or more stakeholder organisations. The option highlighted by the greatest
number of stakeholders (5) was HR02, Native breeds at risk supplement.
180. Only 2 respondents specified options for which they would like to see lower uptake. Ten
stakeholders wanted to see additional options in the scheme.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
181. Of 12 organisations who expressed an opinion on the quality of HLS agreements, 7 said
it was good and 4 acceptable, but one said it was poor.
182. More organisations thought that sufficient advice was available compared to ELS/OELS,
but as for ELS/OELS, all the three advisory organisations who expressed an opinion said that
there was insufficient advice.
183. Most were content with the HLS handbook. However, some felt that it was confusing and
could be made more ‘user-friendly’; a number of specific suggestions were also made.
184. Ten respondents thought the FEP was essential or very useful, but 8 thought it was not very
useful. In contrast to the views on FERs, a majority of respondents, including six conservation
NGOs and three farmers organisations, thought that the amount of information requested was
too great. Only six though it was about right, and none thought that it was too little. Twelve
thought there were sections or subsections that could be simplified; especially sections 2 and
3. In general the FEP was not thought to be user-friendly, and took too long to complete. Only
3 out of 15 who expressed an opinion felt that additional information should be recorded.
185. Comments on the quality of the FEP were fairly equally divided between good and
acceptable, with one organisation rating them as excellent and one as poor.
186. A majority of respondents thought that both pre- and post-application visits by Natural
England advisers were essential; the rest said that they were very useful or useful.
187. None of the stakeholders who expressed an opinion thought that the HLS targeting
process was working effectively. Comments highlighted a lack of consistency between JCAs,
both in the targeting statements and the scoring process, but also insufficient attention to
species or features of specific local importance. Several suggested that the current targeting
system favoured multi-objective applications, whereas in some cases an agreement addressing
a single high priority objective would give greater benefit. Some also suggested that there was
too much concentration on designated sites, and that over-rigid application of targets would
lead to missed opportunities.
188. Eight out of 19 organisations thought that targets were appropriate for the JCAs
concerned, 5 didn’t and 6 didn’t know.
189. Thirteen out of 15 who expressed an opinion were happy with the style and layout of the
targeting statements, more than for the ELS/OELS targeting guidance leaflets (see paragraph
175). Only 10 commented on the agreement documents; 6 thought they were satisfactory, but
4 thought that the documents were confusing, not well laid out and difficult to interpret.
190. Stakeholders were asked how well they thought various aspects of the scheme operation
and administration had worked. Fewer respondents thought provision of application forms,
agreements or maps had worked well or very well, than thought it was poor or very poor.
However, more said the helpline worked well, than said it was poor/very poor.
191. Further comments on HLS included concerns about funding levels and transfer from
previous agreements, and variations in scoring criteria for acceptance of applications.
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Chapter 11: Appendices
Organic elements
192. Thirteen stakeholders thought that the Government should continue to provide support
for organic farmers; only one thought that it should not. Ten thought it should be through
OELS. All fifteen organisations that responded felt that the Government should continue to
provide support for organic conversion, none said that it should not. Again, ten of these
thought that it should continue to be provided under OELS. Most respondents thought that
the payments for orchards and improved land respectively were about right.
General
193. Among the best aspects of ES were the accessibility of ELS and OELS, linking
environmental benefits to income, raising awareness and changing attitudes among farmers,
and the integrated, multi-objective, whole farm nature of the scheme. A number of more
specific aspects were also mentioned.
194. Most of the worst aspects mentioned were various related to HLS administration issues.
Additional comments mainly reiterated issues raised previously: administrative and budgetary
problems, targeting, advice provision and quality, difficulties and delays in obtaining application
forms and maps.
195. In conclusion, most stakeholders were supportive of ES and seemed content with the
operation of ELS and OELS (though there was some dissatisfaction about the pattern of options
uptake). However, some concerns were expressed in relation to the HLS, including levels of
funding, the targeting process, the design of the FEP, the quality and consistency of advice
provided by Natural England advisers in some areas, the way in which the scoring system for
applications is applied, and inconsistency in approach between different areas. A large number
of specific issues were raised and also suggestions for improvements, which may be helpful in
reviewing the scheme and its operation in the future.
Validation of fers and feps (Chapter 8) introduction & methods
196. Field validation of 179 FERs (split between ELS/OELS and HLS agreements) and 90 FEPs
was undertaken to assess their quality and accuracy. ELS/OELS farms were stratified by previous
agreement status and farm type and were sampled from agreement start dates between 1
August 2005 and 1 August 2006. HLS farms were stratified by previous agreement status and
were sampled from agreement start dates of 1 February and 1 May 2006.
197. The intention was to validate FEPs submitted to RDS before quality control checks
had been made. However, it was not always possible to establish which versions had been
submitted first. It is therefore likely that FEP validation has been undertaken on FEPs at various
stages of quality control by RDS.
198. Validation involved checking that all features were marked on the FER and FEP maps, had
been correctly identified and that no features had been marked which did not exist. Feature
and habitat entries in Part 2 of the FEP were assessed to ensure records were complete and
accurate, including condition assessments and feature detail where appropriate. Aspects of
Part 3 (features at the farm scale) were also assessed.
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199. Data were analysed as the frequency of farms on which individual types of error had
been made for each type of feature (e.g. hedge, ditch etc. for ELS/OELS and hedgerow, BAP
hedgerow etc. for FEPs). For a subset of farms, further detailed analysis evaluated the frequency
of each error in terms of the number of each feature on the farm to establish whether errors
were occasional oversights or a consistent misunderstanding of what was required.
Results FER
200. The quality of completed FERs was variable, but a total of 32 of 179 assessed were
completed without errors. The mean number of errors recorded was 2.0 on ELS/OELS farms
and 2.6 on HLS farms. FER errors on HLS farms were interpreted from FEP errors, which involved
much more complex and comprehensive assessments of each feature. The larger number of
FER errors recorded on HLS farms is therefore likely to be related to the in-depth nature of the
FEP assessments.
201. There was a distinct improvement in the quality of FERs on ELS/OELS farms between
agreement start dates of August 2005 and August 2006. This is surprising given that FERs are
intended to be completed by the farmer, with, therefore, no opportunity to improve FERs on
the basis of experience. However, it may be that agents are increasingly completing FERs (the
participant questionnaire survey indicated that a greater proportion of ELS/OELS applications
had been completed by a third party in August 2006 compared to August 2005. There were
no differences in FER quality between those with and without a previous agreement and there
was no effect of farm size, although only holdings up to 200 ha were analysed. There were
some apparent differences in the quality of FERs produced by farm type, but there were no
clear explanations for these.
202. Boundary trees, in-field trees, hedges, ditches and woodland were the features most
likely to be recorded incorrectly on the FER, but this, at least in part, reflects their frequency in
the landscape.
203. The most common type of FER error was that features were not marked. Half of all FERs
had not marked all individual boundary trees and around 20% had not marked all in-field
trees, hedges or ditches. Individual trees were usually not recorded because insufficient
measurements had been taken. Some trees had been recorded which did not reach the size
threshold and should not have been marked.
204. There was considerable variability in how unmanaged or gappy hedges and walls were
recorded. Many FERs on ELS/OELS farms had not marked outgrown or gappy hedges, others
had marked complete hedges where significant gaps existed and one had marked a hedge, but
only a single bush could be found. Similarly, stone walls in a state of disrepair were unmarked
on two FERs and one had marked stone walls which only constituted a line of stones at
ground level. These features may be unmarked because they can only be entered into ELS/
OELS management options if hedges contain less than 20% gaps and walls are complete.
Thus farmers may interpret the guidance for ELS options to mean that features should not be
marked on the FER.
205. Ditches marked on the FER were often dry indicating that the feature description was not
being followed. Seven FERs on ELS/OELS farms had not marked ridge and furrow. Woodlands
were more likely to be recorded incorrectly on ELS/OELS than on HLS FERs.
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206. Nearly half of all FER errors recorded only occurred occasionally on each farm suggesting
that errors were often simply oversights. However, 28% of errors applied to 80 – 100%
of the features on the holding. This suggests particularly poor recording or a complete
misunderstanding of what was required, although these were usually features that were
uncommon on the holding.
FEP
207. Similar to the results for FERs, the quality of FEPs was variable, but only three of 90 FEPs
assessed were considered to be entirely correct. For the map and Part 2, an average of 11
errors were recorded (based on individual errors for each feature code), but nearly half of these
were only minor mistakes (e.g. incomplete records, incorrectly marked, excess information
supplied).
208. External agents produced slightly better quality FEPs than farmers, although only a small
number of farmers had completed the FEP themselves. There was an improvement in the
quality of FEPs produced over time, but no effect of holding size, although data were only
analysed where complete holdings were validated (usually < 100 ha).
209. The most common types of FEP error were that records were incomplete (e.g. missing
condition assessment, not labelled on map, missing from Part 2) features were not marked,
features misidentified and condition assessments incorrect.
210. Unmarked features were most common: mature trees (53 FEPs), hedgebanks (23), hedges
(19), ditches (19), relict boundaries (19), bankside vegetation (14) and ancient trees (13).
Similar to the FER, poor recording of trees was a result of insufficient fieldwork and hedgebank
descriptions require clarification.
211. Within-field changes in habitat type (usually grassland) posed difficulties for surveyors in
terms of identification and mapping and habitats within fields were often unrecorded or the
whole field was defined as the smaller area.
212. Misidentified features were most frequently grassland types, hedgerows hedgebanks and
individual trees. Most incorrectly identified grasslands had been described as more diverse than
they were, however 10 FEPs had recorded improved grassland which should have been only
semi-improved. Grassland codes G04 – G15 were not particularly well applied. The distinction
between a hedge and a species rich hedge was poorly applied with 13 FEPs recording hedges
as more diverse and 12 less diverse than they were found to be. 10% of FEPs described
hedgebanks as only hedges and 12% recorded ancient trees as mature.
213. Condition assessments were frequently incorrect and were more likely to have been
recorded too high than too low. Generally these assessments were incorrect by only one
category, however six FEPs had recorded semi-improved grassland which was in condition ‘c’
as condition ‘a’.
214. Marked features that were not present in the field were most commonly trees (particularly
boundary) which were too small to be recorded. However, 19 features were recorded which
were not FEP features (e.g. fence, dry ditches).
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215. Where features were common on the holding, around half of the errors relating to that
feature were made only occasionally, although a third of errors were made on at least 80% of
the individual examples of the feature. Generally misidentified and missed features represented
only occasional errors where the feature was not rare on the holding, however, where few
examples of the feature were present, mistakes usually applied to most or all of those features.
Errors which were made consistently across the whole FEP, but did not relate to only a very small
number of features, were generally incomplete records or information that was not required.
216. Assessments of features at the farm scale were generally recorded well, although the
subjective nature of these assessments made them difficult to validate. Half the errors associated
with the landscape assessment related to the strength of representation on the farm, which
was generally recorded higher than it was found to be. Twenty-three characteristics were
judged as typical of the wider area but had been marked as not typical by the FEP surveyor.
Assessment of the field boundary network was considered incorrect on one fifth of FEPs, with
surveyors more likely to rate the network quality lower than was found.
217. Overall, FERs and FEPs were completed quite well, considering the volume and complexity
of information required and there is evidence that the quality is improving over time. For some
features, clarification of definitions and better guidance should help to improve the overall
quality of FERs and FEPs.
Baseline environmental assessment of ELS/OELS (Chapter 9)
Introduction and methods
218. The baseline survey applied to ELS and OELS options (though it included these options
in HLS as well as ELS/OELS agreements), and had two components, each of which had two
objectives:
(i) Baseline assessment of management condition
• to provide a baseline dataset for comparison with a subsequent repeat survey, to assess the
extent to which expected management has been delivered.
• to provide a basis for predicting the amount of change likely to occur in management by
following the prescription guidelines;
(ii) Environmental condition (quality) of features
• To provide a basic evaluation of the environmental quality of features and habitats being
managed under the scheme;
• To determine, through comparison with ‘control’ features not being managed under ES
schemes, whether applicants are selecting features for inclusion in schemes on the basis of
their environmental value, and if so what criteria they are using. These aims were addressed
through a combination of field survey and interview questions, the latter being combined
with interviews undertaken during participant surveys.
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Chapter 11: Appendices
219. A total of 433 ELS, OELS and HLS agreement holders were interviewed, stratified by farm
type, presence or absence of a previous agreement and application window. A subset of 180
farms from the interview sample was selected for field assessment, stratified by scheme (ELS,
OELS, HLS) and previous agreement. Visits were carried out as near as possible to the start of
the agreement.
220. Field assessment of management condition concentrated on elements associated with
the management prescription. Interview questions were designed to obtain information not
readily obtained in the field, such as normal times and frequencies of hedge cutting, fertiliser
and pesticide application practices etc. For the assessment of environmental quality, attributes
of option features were assessed which were relevant to the objectives of the scheme. Where
possible, ‘control’ sites were also assessed, i.e. occurrences of the same feature type which
were not being managed under ES.
221. Options with similar prescriptions in relation to the aspect being assessed were combined
for the presentation of results.
Interview survey results
222. Results are summarised in terms of the proportions of agreement holders who would have
to change their practices to comply with the prescription requirements. These are expressed
as percentages, so for example if 40% need to change a certain practice in order to comply, it
follows that 60% do not.
223. For hedgerow prescriptions EB/OB 1, 2, 8 and 9, which require cutting to be undertaken
no more than once every two years, around 50% of ELS and HLS, but only 20% of OELS
agreement holders, cut their hedges every year and would have to change their practices.
Hedges entered into options EB/OB 3 30 and 10, for which cutting may only be undertaken
once every three years, just over 40% in the ELS and HLS, and 23% in the OELS, were cut too
frequently. Those with previous agreements were more likely to cut less frequently, and less
likely to have to change their management.
224. Most hedges were cut in autumn or winter. Only 4% (ELS), 8% (OELS) and 10% (HLS)
of participants with options EB/OB1, 2, 8 and 9 previously cut hedges within the closed period
of 1 March to 31 July, whilst 15% of HLS and 20% of ELS agreement holders, (but no OELS
participants), cut within the longer period of 28 February to 1 September, during which cutting
is not allowed under options EB/OB 3 and 10.
225. Around 30% of ELS, 14% of OELS and 45% of HLS respondents cut their ditch banks
more frequently than prescribed for options EB/OB6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Those with a previous
agreement tended to cut less frequently. Between 29% (OELS) and 56% (HLS) of agreement
holders cut their ditch banks outside the permitted period of 15 September-28 February.
Around a quarter of those in the ELS and OELS, but two-thirds of those in the HLS, cut the
bottom of their ditches within the prohibited period. Those with a previous agreement were
more likely to cut within the permitted period.
226. Up to 16% of agreement holders cleaned their ditches out more frequently than
prescribed, and around a third of ELS and HLS participants, but only 17% of those in the OELS,
cleaned them outside the permitted period.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
227. Most respondents with option EB/OB11 already carried out repairs to stone walls, though
a small proportion (7-14%) did not.
228. Nearly three-quarters of those undertaking option EC/OC1 (protection of in-field trees
on arable land) normally cultivated beneath the tree canopy, and would need to change this
practice. Nearly 80% of these farmers, and nearly 70% of those with the equivalent grassland
option (EC/OC2) habitually removed fallen branches from beneath in-field trees, the proportion
being slightly lower (55%) for those in the OELS.
229. A number of questions were asked about weed control, fertiliser and manure use, cutting,
grazing and supplementary feeding practices, in relation to options for grassland management
with low or very low inputs, field corners and buffer strips on grassland.
230. Over half of those with options EK2, 4 and EL2, 4 (excluding OELS participants) applied
herbicides to grassland, but only a third of those with rough grazing options in the ELS, and
none in the HLS. Eleven percent said they generally applied herbicides over the whole field, the
remainder using spot spraying, with a small proportion (4-5% overall) using both.
231. Where weed control was undertaken (all options), the main target species were thistles,
docks and nettles. Herbicides were used by around _, and cutting by just under half of ELS and
HLS participants; cutting was the main method for OELS participants.
232. Nineteen percent of ELS participants and 41% of HLS participants undertaking options
where no inorganic fertiliser is allowed said that they normally used fertiliser, and would have
to cease on land in these options. For options where application of up to 50kg N/ha/annum
is permitted, 19% of ELS and 24% of HLS agreement holders were applying more than the
permitted amount.
233. For options where some application of organic manure is permitted, few farmers were
applying over the relevant threshold. For options where no manure may be applied, 50% of
ELS and 67% of OELS, but only 8% of HLS 31 participants, were applying manure previously
and would have to cease on land entered into these options.
234. Three quarters of farmers entering options for buffer strips or field corner management
on grasslands and would have to cease cutting these areas. For those undertaking options
involving management of grassland with low (EK/OK2 and EL/OL2) or very low (EK/OK3 and EL/
OL) inputs, around a third to a half regularly cut the field. Most of those with options EK/OK2
and EL/OL2 who made hay were already complying with the timing restrictions, but around _
of participants with options EK/OK3 and EL/OL3, would have to cut later. For those few who
made silage, up to 20% would need to change the timings of cuts under options EK/OK2 and
EL/OL2, but the majority of those with options EK/OK3 and EL/OL3 would have to change.
Similarly, of the small numbers undertaking option EK1 (management of field corners), over
80% grazed the fields and so would have to fence out their livestock.
235. Around a quarter to a third of those undertaking options where supplementary feeding
is not allowed said that they carry out supplementary feeding. These include options for
archaeological features, management of grassland with low or very low inputs, and enclosed
rough grazing.
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Chapter 11: Appendices
236. Forty-four percent of HLS participants implementing buffer strips on arable land said they
were using them to reduce soil erosion, compared to only 15% of those in the ELS and none
in OELS.
237. Around 20%, 40-50% and 50% of farmers adopting options for soil, nutrient and
crop management plans respectively already had a plan in place (though it is likely that some
alterations/additions would be needed). For manure management plans, 64% of ELS, but only
11% of OELS participants, already had a plan.
238. Some general questions were asked of all interviewees regarding measures to limit
pesticide and fertiliser drift. The most commonly quoted method of avoiding spray drift (around
_ of respondents) was ‘avoid windy conditions’, which is unlikely to be satisfactory without
additional measures. Buffer strips and low-drift nozzles were also frequently mentioned.
239. Most agreement holders used oscillating spout or twin disc spinners for the
application of inorganic fertiliser. These may spread some fertiliser outside the cropped
area unless measures are taken to prevent this. Only a minority appeared to be taking
effective measures to limit misapplication of fertiliser into non-cropped margins.
Field survey: Baseline assessment of management condition.
240. Over 90% of hedgerows entered into options EB/OB1, 2, 8 and 9 (management on one
or both sides) were already at or above the prescribed height of 1.5m. However, around a
quarter (HLS) to a third (ELS), but only 9% of OELS hedges in the ‘enhanced management‘
options (EB/OB3 and 10) would need to be allowed to grow taller. Nevertheless, hedges in the
enhanced management options tended to be taller than control hedges; this difference was
less marked for the other hedgerow management options.
241. The great majority (over 95%) of hedges in all three schemes had the obligatory
uncultivated strip 2m wide from the centre of the hedge. There was little difference between
hedges in options and controls.
242. Around half of the hedges in options EB/OB1 and 8 appeared to have been cut in the
previous year, but less than a third of those in options EB/OB 2, 3, 9, and 32 10 on average.
This suggests that cutting regimes in general were compliant with prescriptions, however this
conflicts with the evidence from the interviews (paragraph 223.
243. Overall, 7% of stone walls entered into option EB/OB11 had gaps, comprising on average
around 10% of the wall length. However, nearly 40% had some top stones missing, again
affecting 10% of the wall on average for the walls concerned. In addition, 5% appeared to
have repairs which did not match the original materials and/or style. A lower proportion of
walls in the schemes had gaps or missing top stones than control walls.
244. Cultivation was evident beneath a third of in-field trees on arable land; however, ¾ of
respondents said they did this (paragraph 228). Evidence of weed control was noted beneath
15% of in-field trees on arable land and 2.5% of those on grassland, but supplementary
feeding was only seen on 1% of grassland trees. Six percent of trees on arable, and 23% on
grass, had fallen timber beneath them. This corresponds with the interview responses for fallen
timber removal (paragraph 228).
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
245. Most woodland fences entered into option EC/OC3 (maintenance of woodland fences)
were already stockproof, but a minority (less than 10% overall) were not. However, a third
of woodlands entered into option EC/OC4 (management of woodland edges) under ELS or
OELS did not have the required 2m uncultivated strip already present, and 7% overall had
supplementary feeding sites within 2m of the woodland edge.
246. Forty-four percent of sites in option ED/OD5 (archaeological features on grassland) had
bare ground present and 33% had evidence of poaching, though these only affected 3-4% of
the ground area. A minority (10% or less) of sites also had evidence of supplementary feeding,
rutting/compaction by vehicles, tipping or dumping and scrub.
247. Supplementary feeding is allowed on options EK/OK2 and EL/OL2 (management of
permanent grassland with low inputs in the lowlands and uplands respectively), providing
poaching is avoided, but not in the equivalent options for management with very low inputs
(EK/OK3 and EL/OL3). Evidence of poaching was noted on 46% of ELS, 23% of HLS and 11%
of OELS sites in option EK/OK2, but only on 10% of ELS sites in EL/OL2 (none on OELS and HLS
sites). However, this only affected a small percentage of the field. Evidence of supplementary
feeding was noted on 5% of sites in options EK/OK3 and EL/OL3.
248. Only in one field out of 83 entered into option EK/OK5 (mixed stocking) was no evidence
of mixed stocking found. It appears that in most cases, grasslands entered into this option are
those where mixed stocking is already practiced.
Field survey questions: Environmental condition (quality) of feature.
249. Just under 3% of hedges entered into ELS/OELS options were in fact considered to be
lines of trees. The average width of hedges in the schemes was between 2.4 and 2.9m. Hedges
on organic farms tended to be slightly wider. Hedges entered into ES were slightly wider on
average than control hedges. 97% of hedges had an uncultivated strip at least 1m wide
between the edge of the hedge and cultivated land. In all options, 3.0-3.5% of hedgerows
on average was composed of gaps, slightly lower than for control hedges (5- 8%). Overall,
14-18% of hedges in the schemes had gaps over 5m long.
250. There were on average around 3 species per 30m length of hedgerow, with only small
differences between schemes or options. Numbers of veteran hedgerow trees were low, fewer
than 0.3 trees per hedgerow on average.
251. Overall, 8, 11 and 14% of hedges in options EB1, 2 and 3 respectively had ditches
adjacent, and 9, 15 and 21% respectively had buffer or set-aside strips adjacent. HLS hedges
were most likely (10-17%), and OELS hedges least likely (7-9%), to have adjacent ditches, but
hedges in the ELS were least likely to have adjacent buffer strips. A higher proportion of hedges
on farms with previous agreements had adjacent buffer strips. Hedges in the scheme were
slightly more likely to have adjacent ditches or buffer strips than control hedges.
252. There were on average around 5 species per square metre on ditch banks in options EB/
OB6 and 7 in the ELS, 5-6 on those in the OELS, and 7-8 on those in the HLS. Ditch banks were
on average 1.2-1.3m wide, and 1.1-1.2 m deep. Average width of water was 0.6m, and depth
form 7-9cm (ELS/OELS) to 13- 15cm (HLS).
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253. Twenty-two percent of ditches in option EB/OB6 were next to hedges, 8.5% were next to
woods, 2% were next to stone walls, and 23% nest to other boundary features, such as lines
of trees and shelter belts. Around 20% on average had adjacent buffer or set-aside strips.
254. 88% of in-field trees in arable land were classified as ‘mature’, and 12% as ‘veteran’. In
contrast, 13% of in-field trees in grassland were classified as young overall, and only 6% as
veteran.
255. Around 50-60% of woodlands in options EC/OC3 and 4 (maintenance of woodland
fences and management of woodland edges) were classified as ‘semi-natural’, 11-18% were
broadleaved plantations, 14-24% mixed, and 11-14% conifer plantations. Virtually all conifer
plantations were in ELS, and a higher proportion of woodlands in option EC/OC3 under
OELS and HLS agreements were broadleaved plantations or semi-natural. 80-90% of option
woodlands were diverse in age and height, and had naturally regenerating young trees present.
Around half of woodlands in both options had standing dead wood recorded, and 70-80%
had fallen dead wood present.
256. Between 1 and 17% of archaeological features on grassland had detrimental factors
present, such as trees, vehicle tracks, burrows, erosion, reeds, paths and bracken, affecting
between 3 and 10% of the area on average.
257. Twenty eight percent of buffer strips on arable land were next to watercourses, and 56%
were next to hedges. Overall, only 4% were next to woodlands and 4% next to stone walls,
but over 20% were next to other categories, including footpath, roadside verge, grass verge,
scrub, pond, and pollen/nectar mix.
258. The percentage of buffer strips next to watercourses on grassland was similar overall
those on arable land, but only 45% were next to hedgerows. A higher percentage of buffer
strips on grassland was next to woodland (15%) than on arable, 4% were next to stone walls,
and 17% were next to ‘other’ features, mainly fences. Farms with previous agreements were
more likely to site strips next to watercourses, and less likely to place them next to hedgerows,
than those without previous agreements, especially on grassland. Most buffer strips were
classified as low or medium botanical diversity.
259. Of 32 field corners monitored, 14 were next to ditches, or streams, 15 next to hedges 4
next to tree lines or shelter belts, and 7 next to woodland. Around half of the sites identified
for field corner management had already been taken out of management and had wellestablished vegetation at the time of the assessment.
260. There was more medium high diversity grassland, and less low diversity grassland in
options EK/OK3 and EL/OL3 (management with very low inputs), than under options EK/
OK2 and EL/OL2 (management with low inputs). In all cases, the majority was in the medium
category, for EK/OK2 and EL/OL2, only OELS agreements had grassland of high diversity. For
all options, a greater proportion of sites were in the medium or high categories, and a smaller
proportion in the low, than for control sites.
261. Between 9 and 15% of grasslands entered into the schemes had evidence of historic
or archaeological features present. A much larger proportion of grasslands entered into all
four options for management with low or very low inputs showed evidence of archaeological
features than comparable control sites.
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Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
262. Ninety percent of grasslands entered into ELS option EK5 were low in species diversity,
but 90% of those in option OK5 were in the medium category. High diversity grasslands were
only found in the HLS.
263. Rush pastures in the LFA managed under option EL/OL4 were assessed for their suitability
for breeding waders. Average field size was only 5.1ha (optimum >10ha), but groups of fields
can also be valuable if not separated by tall hedges. Forty five percent of sites had hedges;
a third were less than 2m high (beneficial); _ were greater than 2m (detrimental). Very few
were next to roads or crossed by paths or power lines, all of which reduce the likelihood of
breeding.
264. The proportion of the field covered by rushes was highly variable (5-90%, average
42.5%), with some fields having less than the 30% stipulated for entry into the option. Grass/
sedge tussocks were recorded on 78% of sites, making up 36% of the sward on average.
Discussion
265. These results, plus additional data not reported here, provide a valuable resource as a
baseline for future comparison and assessment of change. The information obtained from
interview questions and field records also allows an assessment to be made of the change
which would be necessary to comply with the requirements of the prescription. This varies
considerably between options and management practice, with a full range from 0 to 100% of
agreement holders needing to change their normal management practice. In general a smaller
proportion of OELS agreement holders needed to change practices than those in the ELS and
the HLS, and a smaller percentage of those with agreements under previous schemes needed
to change than those without previous agreements.
266. In terms of differences in habitat quality between schemes, once again a higher proportion
of agreements in the OELS were of good quality in relation to many attributes, compared to
the ELS. In some cases, though not all, this also applied to those in the HLS. Comparison with
control features can indicate whether higher quality features are being selected for entry into
the schemes. Results varied according to feature and the attribute measured, but in a number
of cases, positive differences were observed between features in options and controls.
Modelling of environmental impacts (Chapter 10) Introduction and
methods
267. Because it is not possible at the early stage of the scheme covered by this report to
measure environmental outcomes directly, a modelling framework was developed to predict
outcomes for key indicators in relation to agreed targets, based on expert scores. The method
was used to model the impact of ELS and OELS on indicators relating to biodiversity and
resource protection; it was not appropriate for landscape or historic objectives.
268. For each indicator/option combination, experts were asked to provide a score indicating
the potential of that option to contribute to the achievement of the target for the indicator
if implemented optimally, and an estimate of how much of the option would be needed to
gain maximum effect. Experts were also asked to indicate their confidence in the scores and
estimates of optima. The results gave a score for the potential value of the scheme on each
farm for each indicator, which could also be related to a maximum potential score for the
134
Chapter 11: Appendices
options chosen, if implemented optimally. Scores were weighted by area of the farm. The way
in which the calculations were carried out meant that the maximum potential score would
always be ten, whether expressed at farm, JCA, region, national or any other level. Experts
were also given the opportunity to specify various types of interactions between options.
269. Many experts provided scores for options relating to the impact on each indicator, but
were unable to estimate optimal amounts required to achieve the targets. A simplified approach
was therefore developed, where only the presence or absence of options was accounted for.
Scores were weighted according to the number of options taken up by the farm in question, on
the basis that the more options taken up, the lower the amount of each option would be.
270. Indicators were chosen that were policy relevant, and had sufficient knowledge base to
allow informed prediction of impacts of ELS/OELS options by experts. Where possible, indicators
were selected from lists of indicators already used by Defra. Where it was felt that an indicator
was appropriate but no suitable policy indicator was identified, a new indicator was created.
271. Indicators included farmland bird species, other farmland BAP species and habitats, plant
diversity in fields, field margins, river banks and stream sides, extent and condition of farmland
habitat features, biological quality of rivers, nutrient and pesticide levels in fresh waters, and
control of soil erosion and sedimentation. Targets were generally as for the policy indicators
concerned.
Results
272. Forms were received from 16 experts or groups of experts, but the optimum amount
of the option needed to achieve the target was often missing. These were: grey partridge,
skylark, yellowhammer, turtle dove, corn bunting, black grouse, brown hare, pipistrelle, crested
newt, spring-germinating arable flora, autumn-germinating arable flora, hedge bottoms, and
hedgerows. Scores with optimal amounts were provided for 13 indicators (plus four individual
BAP species of arable flora), and scores without optimal amounts from at least two experts for
a further 16. An additional 22 were scored by one expert only.
273. For 16 indicators for which full scores were available, the original model could be applied.
The maximum possible score for most indicators was 10. This implies that ELS/OELS could
potentially achieve the target for the indicator 36 concerned. Only for turtle dove was a score
of 10 not achievable. However, less than 1% of farms achieved a score of 10, except for
pipistrelle and hedgerows.
274. The overall scores gave an indication of the extent to which the ELS/OELS is achieving the
target for that indicator, on the basis of option uptake over the whole of England. Weighted
scores were mostly between 1 and 3.5, suggesting that patterns of uptake are not currently
ideal. However, in some cases, appropriate options will not be available in all areas (e.g.
options to encourage arable flora). Also, some indicators, e.g. bird or plant species, only occur
in limited areas. In these cases, calculating the score for the core area could provide a better
indication of what could be achieved.
275. A high score (6.6) was achieved for ancient and species-rich hedgerows, because the
relevant options are very widely taken up in ELS/OELS agreements. A high score was also
realised for the pipistrelle, in this case influenced by the high score given to option ED1
(Maintenance of traditional farm buildings).
135
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
276. Additional scores were provided by the RSPB for three bird species using an alternative
system, assuming that options providing three types of resource: nesting, summer foraging and
winter foraging habitats would be required to achieve benefits. This is termed conditionality.
It was possible to calculate national scores using the original model and the alternative. As
expected, those produced using the conditional model were lower than those using the
original model. The options required for the species concerned were generally those with low
uptake, and requiring a combination of options on each farm obviously reduced the amount
of holdings contributing to the score.
277. Calculations were also carried out using the simplified model, and results compared by
expressing the scores as a percentage of the maximum. Comparison of mean scores expressed
as a percentage of the maximum score for the two models showed that the rank order was
similar, but the simplified model tended to underestimate the overall score compared to the
original model. The outputs from the simplified model could therefore be used as a guide for
comparing the impact of the scheme on different indicators, but the actual values cannot be
related specifically to targets. Scores provided by different experts for the same indicators were
compared using the simplified model, as this was applicable to a greater range of indicators,
with more scores available for each. Although in some cases scores for specific indicators
were relatively consistent between experts, in other cases they were considerable different.
For most of the non-BAP species, the results were remarkably consistent, but less consistency
was observed between experts contributing scores for plant diversity and BAP habitats. Higher
values were noted for water quality indicators than for most species and habitat indicators,
with once again a higher level of consistency between the two assessors.
Discussion
278. In retrospect, too many indicators identified for assessment, and the original approach
was ambitious, within the constraints of the resources available. A number of difficulties were
experienced with the method adopted, which meant that the original objectives were not fully
achieved. Recruitment of ‘experts’ was difficult owning to the time commitments required.
Also, individuals preferred to confer and provide an organisational viewpoint, thus limiting the
pool of potential assessors. Some had concerns that sufficient information was not available on
which to base the assessments, and that producing a quantitative output could lead to overinterpretation of the results. A concurrent review of BAP targets meant that there was some
uncertainty in this area. Finally, and most importantly, many of the assessors who did provide
returns professed themselves unable to suggest optimal amount of options, and only provided
scores for the value of the options. Many of the consultees only felt comfortable providing
information for which there was firm evidence from the literature.
279. There was considerable variability in the outputs from different experts. This could
result from real differences in opinion, but could also result from differing levels of expertise
in the indicators concerned. A more rigorous approach, using recently developed techniques
of expert elicitation involving one-to-one interaction and a priori assessment of an assessor’s
degree of expertise, could provide for better understanding of the process, and lead to more
robust outputs.
280. The establishment of targets for implementation of options, based on a combination
of literature review and consultation, could provide a firmer basis for a modelling approach
such as is used here. For indicators of water quality, optimal area is not the most appropriate
136
Chapter 11: Appendices
measure against which to assess uptake. Placement of options in relation to watercourses is
crucial; this could be assessed on a sample basis from digitised maps or in the field, and the
results scaled up to catchment, regional or national level.
281. The model as currently designed does not take account of the extent of any existing
habitats or features. Variants could be developed which take account of current levels of
habitat provision and management at local or regional level.
282. The work reported here relates only to biodiversity and water quality indicators. Assessment
of the success of scheme in relation to the historic environment would require comprehensive
data on the historic and archaeological resource with which to compare uptake. However, a
qualitative assessment of contribution to landscape conservation could be made by using the
JCA-level vision statements developed in the Countryside Quality Counts project.
283. In conclusion, the following steps could be taken to improve evaluation of the
environmental benefits of ELS/OELS:
• A study to produce estimates of optimal areas, for a limited selection of key indicators where
this is appropriate, and define the geographical area over which the uptake of entry-level
options should be assessed. This would allow experts to concentrate on scoring option
values, which they found less challenging.
• Apply the model to restricted areas corresponding with the distribution of the indicator
concerned.
• Develop an improved methodology for eliciting expert assessments, incorporating calibration
of level of expertise and perception of uncertainty.
• Examine ways of improving methodology to incorporate interactions between options and
(where appropriate) effects of existing habitat.
• Develop a model for assessing the impact of uptake on water quality, based on spatial
location of options in relation to watercourses.
• Match Countryside Quality Counts vision statements to options and assess uptake in each
JCA.
The full report can be found at: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module
=More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=13825#Description
137
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
11.2 Summary of Stakeholder Attendance at Workshops.
17 July,
Reading
(2007)
9 October,
Reading
(2007)
Abacus Organics
ALGAO
X
X
Butterfly Conservation
CAAV (Central Association
of Agricultural Valuers)
CLA
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
DCMS
X
X
Environment Agency
X
Grasslands Trust
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Forestry Commission
FWAG
7 January,
London
(2008)
X
CPRE
Devon CC (Council for
British Archaeology)
21 November,
London
(2007)
GWCT
X
X
Hampshire CC
X
X
Hertfordshire CC
X
National Trust
X
NBA
X
NFU
X
X
NPA (North York Moors)
X
X
RSPB
X
X
Soil Association
X
Tennant Farmers
X
Wildlife & Countryside Link
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Wildlife Trusts
Woodland Trust
X
X
X
N.B. This list shows responses received from stakeholders who indicated they would be attending the meeting.
138
Chapter 11: Appendices
11.3 Summary of recommendations on changes to ES options.
284. These recommendations apply to OELS where appropriate.
285. Very minor changes e.g. underlining one word, or just swapping a couple of words
around so that a sentence reads better have not been included.
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
286. FB = Farmland Birds sub-group.
48
80
37
23
13
General
Ensure that the data used to generate the Farm
Environmental Information Map for ELS is the most
up-to-date available; in particular the latest version of
the selected national heritage dataset will be loaded
onto Genesis. In addition, NE will continue to pursue
the collection and provision of improved historic
environment data for the maps in future.
1
Consider ways of using the handbooks to raise
awareness and understanding of ES objectives (including
climate change) and the contribution of each option to
the objectives.
1
Boundary Workstream
EB1/2 – Change option prescription to extend noncutting date by one month from 31 July to 31 August to
improve nesting bird success.
1
EB1/2 – Amend guidance to clarify that the maximum
cutting frequency is bi-annual and that a less frequent
trimming regime is acceptable.
1
EB1/2/3 – Change option prescription to remove
eligibility of roadside hedgerows to be entered into
scheme if they are required to be cut annually for public
safety.
1
EB1/2/3 – Clarify the option aim to ensure only eligible
features entered.
1
EB1/2/3 – Update guidance with NE leaflet on hedge
management decisions.
1
139
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
Boundary Workstream
EB1/2/3 – Consider reducing maximum gaps allowed
in hedgerow length from 20% to 10% – clarify
consistency with Hedgerow Regulations and HAP
favourable condition.
1
EB3 – Delete prescription regarding roadside hedges.
1
EB6/7/8/9/10 – Change option prescription so that
dredging or spoil must be placed along the bank outside
of any cross-compliance/areas managed under ES.
1
EC1/2 – Extend management restrictions from canopy
to 2m beyond canopy of tree and adjust points
accordingly.
1
EC3 – Clarify option aim to ensure only eligible features
entered.
1
EC4 – Change from 2m to 6m and adjust points
accordingly to improve success of option
1
EC4 – (FB) Amend option aim wording to clarify benefits
that can be achieved.
1
BS – Clarify guidance whether this is for one to two
sides.
1
HSL – Clarify online eligibility guidance to note the
hedgerow styles the supplement can and can’t be used
for.
140
1
FP – Amend guidance to clarify that this can be used,
where appropriate, for pruning fruit trees in hedges.
1
MT/SF – Amend guidance to clarify that this can be
used, where appropriate, for establishing fruit trees
within hedges.
1
New – Investigate feasibility of new suite of options for
upland wood pasture.
1
New ELS Option – Investigate feasibility of establishment
of hedgerow trees through tagging.
1
New ELS Option –Investigate feasibility of protection of
existing hedgerow trees.
1
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
Boundary Workstream
New ELS Option –Investigate feasibility of maintaining
or extending earth/turf faced banks.
1
New HLS Capital Works Item – Investigate feasibility of
identification of fruit trees option
1
New HLS Capital Works Item – Investigate feasibility of
new orchard tree guard option
1
New HLS Capital Works Item – Investigate feasibility of
new earthbanks option
1
Access Workstream
All options – improve integration with woodland
HN3 – Amend eligibility to allow surfaces other than
grass paths to be entered.
1
1
New HLS Capital Works Item – Investigate feasibility/
ways of incentivising accreditation and CEVAS training –
including other providers.
1
Arable Workstream
ED3/HD3 – Amend prescription to non-inversion
cultivation so that maximum cultivation depth is easier
to achieve.
1
ED3/HD3 – Amend prescription to permit some root
crops and oilseed rape to be grown.
1
EE1-3 – Investigate possibility of amending prescription
to allow use of gramicides/scarification to benefit
foraging birds.
1
EF1 – (FB) Increase the maximum patch size from 1ha to
2ha.
1
EF1 – (FB) Amend prescription to highlight suggested
non-cutting period to help nesting birds.
1
EF2 – (FB) Amend option aim to improve delivery of
option for year-round supply of seeds for birds.
1
EF2/EG2 – (FB) Amend prescription to list crops that can
be planted and include advice on disease management.
1
141
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
Arable Workstream
EF2/EG2 – (FB) Amend prescription to increase the size
of the area that can be sown to increase option uptake.
EF2/EG2 – (FB) Add prescription to provide guidance on
sowing time.
1
EF2/EG2 – (FB) Amend prescription to clarify fertiliser
and insecticide use.
1
EF2/EG2 – (FB) Amend prescription to clarify crop reestablishment procedures.
1
EF3/5 – Investigate amending option to allow use on
ECS land
142
1
1
EF4 – Clarify option aim wording to make the purpose
of the option easier to understand.
1
EF4/EG3 – Change prescription to increase the number
of species sown from 3 to 4 and reduce the maximum
percentage of a single species from 70% to 50%.
1
EF4/EG3 – Amend prescription to broaden period when
the mixture can be sown.
1
EF4/EG3 – Increase maximum size of plot from 0.5ha to
1ha.
1
EF4/EG3 – Amend prescription to clarify cutting times in
light of research that has identified peak nectar demand
for bee species.
1
EF4/EG3 – Amend prescription wording to clarify when
herbicides should be used.
1
EF4/EG3 – Amend prescription to highlight that
poaching/compaction should be avoided if winter
grazing.
1
EF6 – Amend option aim to incorporate ground-nesting
birds.
1
EF6 – Amend prescription to clarify that tramlines
should be subsoiled.
1
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
Arable Workstream
EF6 –(New ELS Option) Investigate major change/
possible new option to make stubbles weedier and to
extend period left.
1
EF7 – Amend prescription to indicate that should not be
located in areas with risk of soil erosion.
1
EF8 – Amend option aim and prescription wording to
clarify how best to locate skylark plots following the
SAFFIE research.
1
EF8 – Amend prescription to allow plots to be sprayed
out and clarify plot size.
1
EF8 – Amend prescription so that plots are not
connected to tramlines to reduce predation.
EF8 – Amend prescription from a maximum of 2 plots/
hectare to a minimum 2 plots/hectare
1
1
EF9 – Amend option to not allow fertiliser use to
improve delivery of biodiversity.
1
EF9 – Amend prescription so that from the 15th Feb, is
returned to the farm rotation.
1
EF10 – Amend option title and aim to unharvested
cereal headland within arable fields.
1
EF10 – Change option from 6-24m to 3-6m as sufficient
benefits can be achieved in smaller widths.
1
EF10 – Amend prescription to allow spring or autumn
sowing and at a reduced seed rate.
1
EF10 – Clarify prescription as to when fertiliser and
manure can be applied.
1
EF10 – Remove prescription to apply pre-harvest
desiccant.
1
EF10 – Amend prescription to allow headlands to
remain in the same place to benefit scarce arable plants.
1
EF10 – Amend prescription to clarify when cultivation
should take place.
1
143
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
Arable Workstream
EF11 – Amend option title and prescription to allow
flexibility in width from the existing 6m to 3-6m.
1
EF11 – Amend prescription to clarify herbicide use.
EF11 – Consider allowing option to be available in OELS
to benefit rare arable plants.
1
1
EK1/EL1 – Amend prescription wording to clarify no
cutting during the bird breeding season.
1
HD2 – Consider amending guidance so that only the
archaeological feature is covered and not the whole
field.
1
HD3 – Consider restricting use of this option to the
most important listed archaeological sites.
1
HG6 – Amend option to allow uptake in part as well as
whole fields to improve option uptake.
1
New ELS Option – Investigate possibility of summer
fallow option to provide nesting habitat for birds and
help mitigate the loss of rotational set-aside.
1
New ELS Option – Investigate possibility of combined
bird and nectar mix where land area available for
separate options is limited.
1
FEP
144
FEP – Remove duplication between section 2 and 3
by (as much as possible) only capturing ‘land parcel’
information in part 2.
1
FEP – Replace ‘tick box’ part of JCA table in section 3
with free text to capture more information.
1
FEP – Remove section 3.2 on the historic environment as
information will be collected in section 2.
1
FEP – Streamline section 3.3 by capturing information in
notes part in section 2.
1
FEP – Tighten up the situations in which the tables in
section 3.4 need to be completed.
1
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
FEP – Add question into section 3.5 on access to
ensure that RoW improvement plan is consulted and
amend wording to look at potential for new access –
particularly integrating woodland access.
1
FEP
FEP – Streamline section 3.6 by removing the table in
question (b) and capturing the information in the notes
part in section 2.
1
FEP – Include guidance to consult EA in pre-FEP
consultation process and streamline section 3.7 by
removing table of field numbers.
1
FEP – Streamline section 3.8 by capturing information in
‘farm overview’ and part 2.
1
FEP – Consider removing section 3.9 on woodlands,
to be in pre-FEP consultation stage and TPOs to be
captured in the notes column in section 2.
1
FEP – Consider whether to reduce the number of
supplementary tables in section 3.10 or remove and
capture in the notes part in section 2.
1
FEP – Following recommendations from the CSL report,
include a new section entitled ‘Farm Overview’ to
improve customer engagement.
1
FEP – Remove restriction of 96 characters to part 2
of the notes column to allow information that would
originally have been captured in part 3.
1
FEP – Streamline boundary recording requirement
in part 2 to batch boundaries of identical type and
condition and colour code on FEP map.
1
FEP – Streamline FEP by removing requirement to
complete Re Mangt Option column as evaluation
has shown that FEP agents and not customers are
completing this section which was not intended.
1
FEP – Record all features at ‘feature list’ instead of
‘feature detail’ to simplify data collection.
1
145
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
FEP – Remove requirement to record all mature or overmature trees unless they have a TPO to simplify data
collection.
1
FEP – Amend procedure by appending HER map
as supporting documentation instead of FEP agent
manually copying data.
1
FEP
FEP – Proposed new HER payment rates more
meaningfully linked to the FEP and farm size as original
rates based on erroneous calculation.
1
FEP – Include PRoW and OS location details on FEP map
to improve identification of locations and help identify
need for new or improved access.
1
FEP – Include RLR parcels on EI map to improve
interpretation for advisers and agents.
1
FEP – Append LA HE contact details to the FER as a
stopgap until enhanced SNHD version is uploaded onto
Genesis and NE funded research reports.
1
NB. There are some strategic recommendations which
relate to the FEP. These are outlined in the main body of
the report.
Climate Change Mitigation
146
CC – research has been commissioned to examine
current ES options and recommend changes which
would increase their climate change mitigation impact;
and to review mitigation methods identified in other
research and suggest if/how they could be incorporated
into ES. The study will be completed in Spring 2008 and
appropriate changes will be made to ES as a result.
1
CC – commission / support further research as necessary
to develop techniques that could be incorporated into
ES in future to increase the contribution to climate
change adaptation and mitigation.
1
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
CC – alter ES guidance material to reflect the role the
scheme will have in respect to climate change; and
use ES advice to raise awareness and understanding of
climate change issues.
1
CC – Consider how NE’s carbon accounting for land
managers project can be applied to ES.
1
Resource Protection
EB1-5 – additional guidance in handbook about
retaining vegetation at hedgerow base and preventing
poaching and run off near hedge.
1
EB6-10 – develop new wording to prevent poaching of
and adjacent to ditch banks
1
EB6 – clarify that vegetation on ditch banks should be
cut in rotation, using only mechanical means.
1
EB6 – clarify that dredging or spoil should be spread
evenly across the adjacent field
1
EB8-10 – develop wording to ensure hedge trimmings
to not remain in the ditch
1
EB11 – develop wording to ensure run-off is prevented
adjacent to walls and through any gaps.
1
EC4 – develop wording to ensure run-off is prevented
along woodland edges.
1
EE1-2 – clarify that compaction should be removed
(except where it would affect historic features) prior to
seeding and full vegetation cover should be maintained
where possible.
1
EE1-8 – , EF7 – add that when soil is moist, cutting
should not be carried out to prevent compaction.
1
EE1-6 – require control of run-off from buffer strips.
1
EE1-6 – add to the option aim ‘reducing overland flow’
as a potential benefit.
EE1-6 – allow more regular cutting of buffer strips;
1
1
147
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
EF1-6 – clarify that compaction should be removed
(except where it would affect historic features) prior to
seeding and encourage placement against rivers and
streams.
1
EF10 – Remove compaction in tramlines within the
headland if causing run-off.
1
Resource Protection
EF11 – Develop wording to reduce deep compaction
and ensure that false seed beds are not produced
through rolling or pressing if the margin runs
perpendicular to contours
1
EG4 – develop wording about (1) surface cultivation and
(2) tramlines (i.e. they must be sub-soiled or cultivated if
there is a risk of run-off) to reduce soil erosion risk.
1
EG5 – remove brassica fodder crop option and
clarify soil risk erosion in HLS version of option.
1
EJ1 – remove option for management of high erosion
risk cultivated land.
1
EJ2 – include requirement to remove compaction and
consider requiring slurry and manure to be cultivated in
as soon as possible.
1
EK2/3 – encourage placement of this option on high risk
areas (EK3 best on areas of soil erosion or high run-off)
and do not allow spreading of nutrients when wet.
148
1
EL2-4, EL2-4 – Consider amending prescriptions on
manure spreading in respect to wet channels that are
connected to watercourses.
1
EK4 – develop wording to encourage reduction in
nutrient applications and clarify that manures should
not be applied during the non growing period and in
any case when conditions are wet.
1
EK5 – Develop wording to ensure that supplementary
feeding does not result in serious poaching.
1
HC & hedgerow creation options – highlight benefits in
terms of reduced wind erosion.
1
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
HD11- highlight role that may be able to play in proving
an areas for flood storage.
1
HE10, 11 HF12, 14, HK8, HD6-9 and ED3 – add
requirements to remove compaction and control run-off.
1
HJ3-6 – add wording to clarify that the contribution
these options make to flood management by reducing
surface run-off.
1
HK13/ 14 – develop suitable text to ensure location is
consistent with EA flood risk management strategies.
1
Resource Protection
HK19 – develop text to advise that this option can help
reduce flood risk.
1
HK9-14 – guidance that these options can provide areas
for flood storage.
1
HL10 – Amend option aim to clarify benefits to upland
wildlife, historic features and landscape character.
Add may provide an area of flood storage and some
benefits to flood risk management.
1
HL13 – change option aim to refer to surface run-off.
1
HLS water provision for livestock capital items – make
it clear that these are also available where watercourse
fencing has been installed.
1
HO2 –guidance on allowing rewetting of areas of
historical wet heathland.
HP, HR & HQ options – add that they are also valuable
for their contribution to flood risk management.
1
1
HQ13/HP7/8 and HL11 – Add wording that this
supplement should be used in sites identified through
local Environment Agency flood management strategies.
1
OELS – options should specify a manure spreading time.
1
Aim of ELS – Add that ELS will reduce surface run-off.
EJ/OJ new option – for enhanced maize management.
1
1
149
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
ELS new option – develop a new option for a 12m
non-riparian/in-field buffer strip. Could also help
mitigate the loss of set-aside.
1
ELS new option to fund maintenance of watercourse
fencing
1
ELS new option – develop a new option for a 12m
riparian/in-field buffer strip. Could also help mitigate the
loss of set-aside.
1
ELS potential new option – await the results of
further research then consider developing an option to
reduce impact of tramlines on diffuse pollution.
1
Resource Protection
ELS potential new option – consider developing a
temporary vegetative cover (strips/areas) to reduce soil
erosion and run-off; minimising any negative impact on
biodiversity.
1
ELS/HLS new options – further investigate and develop
new option(s) for wind erosion.
1
HLS potential new option – await completion of
studies then consider development of ditch berm with
reedbed option.
1
HLS potential new option – investigate capital item/s
for hard bases for livestock drinkers and feeders.
1
ELS potential new option(s) – Examine ways of
building on the benefits that the former management
plan options offered in a way that adds value to the
scheme.
1
HLS – Investigate use of group application supplement
to support RP/FM objectives
1
Following implementation of enhanced advice, explore
a possible new option of coppicing of bankside
trees options; however need to overcome regulatory
difficulties, cost and risk of damage.
HLS grip blocking capital item – increase payment rate
to 100% of income foregone.
150
1
1
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
Grassland Workstream
HP1-11 – add historic environment prescriptions and
indicators of success (IoS) to all HLS coastal options.
1
HP7 & 8 – amend guidance to refer advisers to regional
Historic Environment Advisers.
1
All HLS – add guidance and examples to generic
archaeological prescription and indicators of success.
Add to the generic prescription a requirement to
maintain vegetative cover.
1
HL7-11 – rename various features to align with current
BAP priority habitat names. Review whether any
changes to definitions etc. are needed as a result.
1
HL16 – consider extending availability of shepherding
supplement to other options.
1
Grassland Workstream
HK13 & 14 – develop editable prescription for
requirement of diverse sward, to be included where it is
considered achievable.
1
O/HD5 & O/ED5 – add text to encourage co-location of
archaeological features on grassland options with other
grassland options.
1
ELS ref to cross-compliance – in text referring to
protection of historic features, clarify that no poaching,
scrape or pond creation is allowed.
1
E/HD5 & E/HK5 – clarify that these options can be colocated so that mixed stocking can be used to diversify
the sward on archaeological features (with appropriate
safeguards).
1
HLS – ensure Technical Information Database is
consistent with guidance.
1
HD10 & 11 – clarify requirements (e.g. a management
plan) and implications of these options which cover
maintenance of traditional water meadows.
1
HD9 – clarify requirements (e.g. a management
plan) and implications of these options which cover
maintenance of designed water bodies.
1
151
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
HD8 – review the IoS on raised water levels to ensure it
is consistent with other options.
1
H01 – enhance guidance and training to ensure ridge
and furrow features are recognised.
1
HO1-5 – revise text on lowland heath options to allow
greater flexibility e.g. winter grazing.
1
HO1-5, HL10-11 – revise handbook and guidance
so that soil disturbance methodology can’t be used
on known or potential archaeological sites, without
consultation with HEA.
1
EL4 – bring supplementary feeding prescription in line
with other rush pasture options.
1
Grassland Workstream
HL9-11 – rename existing Upland Heath feature as
Upland Dry Heath and create new Upland Wet Heath
feature (and revise supporting guidance, IoS etc.)
1
All HLS – guidance to be developed on use of indicators
and prescriptions and scope for flexibility.
1
EL1 – do not allow grazing under this option (as with
corresponding lowland option).
EK2 & EL2 – clarify that objective is to develop a varied
sward structure and revise prescription to ensure this.
Remove date restrictions on applying manures and
replace with a requirement not to spread if groundnesting birds.
1
1
EK2 & EL2 – Consider how to prevent ‘cosmetic’
topping.
1
EL3 – only allow application of manure where the grass
is regularly cut.
1
EK4 – mention the potential botanical and invertebrate
value of rush pastures in the option aim.
1
EK4 and EL4 – prohibit use of inorganic fertilisers under
these rush pasture options.
EL5 – remove requirement not to supplementary feed.
152
1
1
HL9-11 – revise and upload guidance on moorland
options to ensure better use.
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Chapter 11: Appendices
48
80
37
23
13
1
EK5 – raise the minimum proportion of cattle from 15%
to 30% and raise points from 8 per ha to 9 per ha (the
maximum possible).
HL7-11 –revise moorland key for FEP.
1
1
EK4 –Prohibit supplementary feeding.
1
All – move cross-compliance prescriptions in handbook
to section that deals with relevant features.
1
HD1-5 – add text in handbook to encourage use of
relevant ELS options where no equivalent HLS option.
1
Grassland Workstream
HL9-11 – finalise and upload guidance on moorland
stocking.
1
HP7-9 – review relationship between EA and HLS intertidal and wetland options to ensure complimentary.
1
HK15, 16, HL9, 10 & HC15 & 16 – amend to
incorporate text to ensure the butterfly benefits of
bracken are maximised.
1
HLS grassland/upland moorland and rough grazing
options – review these options to ensure they cover
upland fringe grassland with botanical interest. If not,
consider development of new option.
1
ELS grassland/upland possible new option – or
supplement, to encourage haymaking / cutting.
1
ELS/HLS HE grassland options – check options can
be used maintain grassland on HE sites that have
been reverted. Also review options for protection
of archaeological sites under intensive grassland.
If necessary consider development of possible new
option(s).
1
HO2 – review this option to ensure covers sites not
in good/favourable condition for reasons other than
neglect. If not consider development of possible new
option.
1
153
Neutral
Effect
More
Restrictive
(Possible)
New option
Impact
Unknown
Total number of recommendations
Less
Restrictive
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
48
80
37
23
13
EL2-5 – (FB) await results of research then review these
options to ensure cover needs of breeding birds. If not
consider development of possible new option.
EL5 – consider increasing size limit of this option.
1
1
EL5,6 – review these options alongside development of
UELS.
1
HL9, 10, 11 – review IoS and guidance and grouping.
1
HLS potential new option/supplement for ditch
management in non-priority habitat.
1
Grassland Workstream
HQ6-10 – review these options, including eligibility,
payment and length of agreements, with the aim of
achieving higher uptake.
1
HLS supplements – review scope for tailoring these and
consider development of new supplements.
1
ELS / HLS grassland options – review prescriptions
etc. following the completion of research on waders
and other lowland wet grassland birds. Consider
development of possible new option if necessary.
1
HLS upland moorland options – review and where
necessary revise indicators and text in FEP to bring
in line with Common Standards Monitoring (CSM)
condition assessment guidance.
1
HLS – review and consider revisions to text on the
maximum cover of negative indicators to ensure
consistency.
1
HLS upland moorland etc. review text for limestone
pavement feature description, condition assessment etc.
1
ELS grassland – consider development of possible new
option allowing rye grass to go to seed, following the
completion of research into winter food sources for
birds.
1
287. Full details of the changes to ES options, including supporting evidence and stakeholder
comments can be requested from [email protected]
154
Chapter 11: Appendices
11.4 Summary of Stakeholder Comments on Scheme Design and
Process Issues – Stakeholder workshop 7th January 2008
288. FEPs.
• Universal support for Option A – FEP simplification as proposed in Phase 1.
• Some calls to update and improve the pre-FEP consultation process to ensure it is more
consistently applied across different regions.
• Scepticism about the value of further simplification with concern that valuable features may
be missed, leading to loss of environmental benefits, particularly if the FEP was no longer
‘whole farm’.
• Concern about external agents being cut out of the process if Natural England undertook
FEPs. It was felt that the FEP should be done by the person who knows the farm best and
the farmer should have confidence in that person; this may be a Natural England adviser,
but it may be their agronomist/independent adviser etc. Farmers value the independence of
an external agent in the overall process and this can give them greater confidence.
289. Capital items.
• Mixed views with some believing capital items should not be offered in ELS/OELS, others
believing it would be a useful addition. Overall, there was scepticism about whether capital
items should be offered.
• Most, but not all, felt that capital items should be offered with UELS.
• Concern that there would not be much additional environmental gain for the cost and
complexity of introducing capital items. It was not clear where the greatest environmental
benefit would lie.
• Comments that cash flow issues could impact on uptake.
• Some support to constrain the availability of capital items to the uptake of a certain
proportion of in-field options.
• Concern that the proposed sums were not sufficient to attract much uptake and that the
proposed suite of options could offer more risk than supposed.
• Comment that capital items may make ELS/OELS more attractive to former closed agrienvironment scheme agreement holders.
290. Enhanced ELS.
• NE should be cautious about reducing uptake as ELS had been established as a “broad and
shallow” scheme.
291. Combined Options.
• Combined (compound) options have potential provided they are based on clear scientific
evidence. Currently the evidence base is not robust enough to develop more than a small
number of new combined options. It will be difficult to make combined options relatively
more attractive than their constituent standalone options without points rebalancing and/or
scheme payment rate review.
155
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
292. Points Rebalancing.
• Points rebalancing – previous experience between ELS pilot and main scheme roll-out where
some limited option points reductions (mainly for boundary options) were implemented had
no discernible impact on the pattern of option uptake. Points rebalancing can only take
place as a reduction from the maximum option points allocation determined by the income
foregone calculation. Consequently it is unlikely to be effective at encouraging e.g. infield
option uptake without a scheme payment rate review.
293. Split Lists.
• Split list approaches have considerable potential as a mechanism to secure a better balance
of option uptake across the scheme objectives. There is, however, evidence that more
complex multi-list approaches would impact on scheme uptake. Unlike points rebalancing,
where it is difficult to predict how applicants might behave in response to a reduction in
option points for certain options, it is possible to model reasonably accurately the number
of existing agreements that would have to change under a given list framework and points
threshold. Further work could then be done to test how these agreement holders might
behave and list structure/thresholds could be adjusted accordingly.
294. Advice.
• Suggestions for ways of delivering advice were well received. The importance of advice
quality (and monitoring to ensure quality and impact) and co-ordination with other sources
of advice (e.g. ensure EA and county archaeologist speak at group events, signpost to
specialist advice, use NP and AONB staff) were emphasised. Getting info to intermediaries
and influential independent advisers was welcomed, as was the plan to increase telephone
advice from local NE staff – the importance of the relationship between the farmer and NE
was stressed. Scepticism about the value of a DVD.
• General agreement with ‘priority’ farmers receiving more intensive advice – expiring closed
agri-environment scheme agreement holders and upland farmers should be top priority.
• On funding it was felt that all other avenues should be explored (RDAs etc.) before using the
ES budget. There was some debate about whether any ‘spare’ budget should be used for
HLS rather than advice; but most felt that, given the amount would buy relatively little HLS
coverage, it would be better used ensuring ELS delivered more and thereby help narrow the
gap between ELS and HLS.
• There was a comment that all the strategic solutions can’t be viewed in isolation e.g. if
capital items were introduced, more advice would be needed; and that is was hard to
make a decision about where the money should go without seeing the cost of alternative
packages of options. We are doing some work in Defra internally to look at this.
• There were differing views about the need for ‘independent’ advice, which farmers might
prefer and the need for NE / Defra to control the advice to ensure the result was the uptake
of options that would deliver most for the environment.
156
Chapter 11: Appendices
11.5 Cost Estimates for ELS Advice Delivery
295. Estimates are based on the planning assumption that uptake would reach 60% by
December 2007 and would level off at around 70% by 2009/10. This was based on:
• continued interest in the scheme from land managers not currently in agri-environment
schemes;
• a 80% renewal rate for ELS/OELS agreement holders from 2010 onwards;
• a high transfer rate (around 80%) for CSS and ESA agreements to ELS/OELS (currently only
30%) (see following table):
Financial Year
Number of expiring agreements
CSS
ESA
Total
2008-09
1,109
674
1,783
2009-10
1,041
534
1,575
2010-11
1,936
478
2,414
2011-12
2,317
584
2,901
2012-13
2,720
2,349
5,069
2013-14
2,673
2,399
5,072
2014-15
1,600
1,632
3,232
• a high level of interest among HFA recipients currently not in CSS/ESAs for UELS from 2010
– potentially around 2900 potential applicants assuming that SDA farms below 10 ha do
not apply and excluding expiring CSS and ESA agreements
Area Farmed (ha)
SDA Holdings
Area covered by those
holdings (ha)
0: <10
7,711
18,206
10: <350
7,973
588,988
350: < 700
369
178,849
700 & over
191
244,477
16,244
1,030,520
TOTAL
296. The CSL report suggests that those LFA farms 10ha and under that were surveyed did
not intend to apply.
297. However, the current level of uptake of ELS is approximately 53% and the 60% target
has not been achieved. Even if the transfer rate from CSS and ESAs increases to the desired
level of 80%, an uptake of 70% is now looking increasingly unlikely due to high commodity
prices and changes to the scheme as a result of RDPE approval and the ES Review of Progress.
A more realistic estimate could be around 65% by end FY 2009/10, which could result in a
further 8000 new agreements in 2008/09 and 2009/10. Numbers of new agreements by FY
would therefore be:
157
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
16,966
11,965
6,400*
5,000**
3,000**
*4,266 agreements to 30 Nov – extrapolated to 31 Mar 08.
**Assuming a further 12% uptake – equates to approx. 8000 new agreements in 2008/9 and 2009/10.
298. Given the economies of scale, half day visits to ELS applicants/agreement holders typically
cost around £400 (inc VAT). This price includes a short report to the farmer and all overheads.
Clinics typically cost about £175 per person (inc VAT). Based on the cost of delivery of FWAG and
ADAS events, farm walks or workshops typically cost around £120 (inc VAT) per attendee.
299. The cost of providing this level of advice would be:
Type of advice
Cost of advice provision (£m)
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
2013-14
0.8
0.8
0.8
0.8
0.8
2.0
1.4
0.8
0.6
1.0
1.1
2.0
2.0
Promotion/
option choice
General
promotion*
ELS/OELS
renewals**
CSS/ESA
transfers***
0.6
UELS
applicants****
1.1
Best
practice*****
‘Difficult’
options
0.4
0.4
1.1
0.8
0.4
Other
agreements
0.4
0.4
1.3
0.9
0.5
Total cost
3.3
4.6
5.7
5.3
4.3
*To be used to fund promotional events for new applicants (including 1:1 advisory visits for those considering applying in
priority target areas or with priority features or where applying for OELS) and for other advisory materials (e.g. DVDs, etc.).
**Assumes that all ELS/OELS agreement holders attend an advice event prior to renewal.
***Assumes that all CSS and ESA agreement holders receive a 1:1 advisory visit (includes those agreements receiving NE
advice).
****Assumes that all 2900 potential applicants receive a 1:1 advisory visit in 2009 prior to the launch of UELS.
*****Assumes an ELS renewal rate of 80% with 20% of agreements containing more difficult options which require a 1:1
advisory visit and the remainder being required to attend an advice event in Year 1.
158
Chapter 11: Appendices
11.6 Analysis of ELS Option Uptake against JCA targets.
Joint Character Area
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
Thames Basin Lowlands
39
87
56
2.2
Manchester Conurbation
35
85
69
2.4
Holderness
40
84
60
2.1
Yorkshire Southern Pennine
Fringe
49
83
73
1.7
Thames Valley
39
83
67
2.1
Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire
and Yor
48
83
65
1.7
Humber Estuary
44
83
64
1.9
Salisbury Plain and West
Wiltshire
31
82
52
2.7
High Weald
33
82
55
2.5
Thames Basin Heaths
40
82
60
2.0
Howardian Hills
39
82
67
2.1
Low Weald
36
82
56
2.3
Carnmenellis
23
81
61
3.5
Exmoor
31
81
65
2.6
Manchester Pennine Fringe
37
81
70
2.2
Bodmin Moor
30
79
60
2.6
Blackdowns
32
79
69
2.5
Shropshire, Cheshire and
Staffordsh
37
79
59
2.1
Wealden Greensand
34
79
62
2.3
South Norfolk and High
Suffolk Clay
34
79
56
2.3
Vale of Pickering
36
79
58
2.2
Berkshire and Marlborough
Downs
35
78
57
2.2
Humberhead Levels
51
78
73
1.5
159
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
South Devon
34
78
79
2.3
Pennine Dales Fringe
35
78
51
2.2
Solway Basin
51
78
73
1.5
The Lizard
29
78
69
2.7
Southern Pennines
27
77
63
2.9
New Forest
36
77
67
2.1
Yorkshire Dales
24
77
54
3.2
Isle of Wight
35
77
69
2.2
Hampshire Downs
31
76
55
2.5
Midvale Ridge
34
76
59
2.2
Cornish Killas
34
76
76
2.2
Hensbarrow
25
76
72
3.0
Lincolnshire Coast and
Marshes
38
76
61
2.0
West Penwith
28
76
68
2.7
South Suffolk and North
Essex Clayl
30
76
53
2.5
Pevensey Levels
29
76
66
2.6
Dartmoor
25
75
56
3.0
Forest of Dean and Lower
Wye
25
75
56
3.0
South Hampshire Lowlands
31
75
58
2.4
Morecambe Bay Limestones
32
75
59
2.4
Mersey Valley
29
75
59
2.6
Vale of York
44
75
73
1.7
Marshwood and Powerstock
Vales
28
75
68
2.7
The Culm
36
75
72
2.1
Leicestershire and South
Derbyshire
34
74
59
2.2
Joint Character Area
160
Chapter 11: Appendices
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
Cheshire Sandstone Ridge
35
74
66
2.1
Yorkshire Wolds
41
74
76
1.8
Southern Magnesian
Limestone
44
74
73
1.7
Devon Redlands
33
74
73
2.2
The Fens
27
73
56
2.7
Vale of Mowbray
27
73
56
2.7
South West Peak
26
73
65
2.8
Potteries and Churnet Valley
25
73
60
2.9
Upper Thames Clay Vales
33
73
61
2.2
Lincolnshire Wolds
34
73
68
2.1
North East Norfolk and Flegg
27
72
48
2.7
Avon Vale
36
72
69
2.0
Weymouth Lowlands
27
72
67
2.7
North Yorkshire Moors and
Cleveland
45
72
71
1.6
Chilterns
35
72
71
2.0
Severn and Avon Vales
33
71
61
2.2
North Downs
34
71
62
2.1
Trent and Belvoir Vales
32
70
59
2.2
Yardley-Whittlewood Ridge
32
70
63
2.2
Somerset Levels and Moors
31
70
65
2.3
Bowland Fringe and Pendle
Hill
25
70
52
2.8
Cotswolds
32
70
59
2.2
Mease/Sence Lowlands
35
69
63
2.0
North West Norfolk
28
69
61
2.5
The Broads
27
69
52
2.5
Shropshire Hills
22
69
55
3.1
Joint Character Area
161
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
Charnwood
30
68
73
2.3
Mendip Hills
30
68
73
2.3
Lancashire Valleys
19
68
42
3.6
North Norfolk Coast
24
68
71
2.8
Central North Norfolk
30
68
63
2.3
Malvern Hills
24
67
71
2.8
South Coast Plain
30
67
60
2.2
East Anglian Chalk
28
67
54
2.4
Dorset Heaths
22
67
59
3.0
Mid Northumberland
28
66
57
2.4
Romney Marshes
30
66
70
2.2
South Downs
35
66
57
1.9
Herefordshire Plateau
25
65
64
2.6
Cannock Chase and Cank
Wood
25
65
60
2.6
Dark Peak
28
65
79
2.3
Greater Thames Estuary
29
65
59
2.2
Northamptonshire Vales
27
64
63
2.4
North Pennines
30
64
70
2.1
Teme Valley
24
63
63
2.6
Leicestershire Vales
28
63
68
2.3
High Leicestershire
29
63
69
2.2
Northamptonshire Uplands
26
62
69
2.4
Kesteven Uplands
31
62
68
2.0
Oswestry Uplands
24
62
67
2.6
Suffolk Coast and Heaths
25
62
60
2.5
Lancashire Coal Measures
30
61
67
2.0
Durham Magnesian
Limestone Plateau
24
61
67
2.5
Joint Character Area
162
Chapter 11: Appendices
Joint Character Area
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
Clun and North West
Herefordshire H
26
61
62
2.3
Lancashire and
Amounderness Plain
30
60
57
2.0
Vale of Taunton and
Quantock Fringe
31
60
71
1.9
Arden
24
60
67
2.5
Mid Severn Sandstone
Plateau
25
60
64
2.4
Bristol, Avon Valleys and
Ridges
26
59
73
2.3
Herefordshire Lowlands
24
59
63
2.5
West Cumbria Coastal Plain
41
59
83
1.4
Merseyside Conurbation
28
59
71
2.1
North Kent Plain
30
59
70
2.0
Blackmoor Vale and the Vale
of Ward
26
59
69
2.3
Southern Lincolnshire Edge
31
58
68
1.9
Mid Norfolk
29
58
62
2.0
Morecambe Coast and Lune
Estuary
35
58
80
1.7
Melbourne Parklands
29
58
66
2.0
Sherwood
31
57
71
1.9
Tees Lowlands
23
57
70
2.5
Trent Valley Washlands
32
57
63
1.8
Northern Thames Basin
25
57
60
2.3
Eden Valley
30
57
67
1.9
Dunsmore and Feldon
25
57
64
2.3
White Peak
25
56
84
2.3
Wirral
30
56
73
1.9
163
Environmental Stewardship: Review of Progress
164
Joint Character Area
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
Needwood and South
Derbyshire Clayl
18
56
56
3.1
South East Northumberland
Coastal P
22
56
64
2.6
Leicestershire and
Nottinghamshire
27
56
67
2.1
Cumbria High Fells
17
56
35
3.3
Orton Fells
13
55
46
4.2
Northern Lincolnshire Edge
with Cov
32
55
69
1.7
Yeovil Scarplands
31
54
77
1.8
Central Lincolnshire Vale
32
54
69
1.7
Derbyshire Peak Fringe and
Lower De
28
54
71
1.9
Dorset Downs and
Cranborne Chase
29
54
62
1.8
Tyne and Wear Lowlands
23
53
70
2.3
North Northumberland
Coastal Plain
22
53
64
2.4
Tyne Gap and Hadrian’s Wall
23
53
65
2.3
Bedfordshire Greensand
Ridge
22
53
59
2.4
Cheviot Fringe
24
53
58
2.2
Cheviots
21
51
62
2.4
Mid Somerset Hills
25
51
68
2.0
Border Moors and Forests
12
51
42
4.3
Quantock Hills
31
51
81
1.6
Breckland
24
49
54
2.0
Bowland Fells
16
46
56
2.9
South Herefordshire and
Over Severn
18
45
67
2.5
Chapter 11: Appendices
Number
of options
identified
in targeting
statement
(out of 63)
Proportion
of total
points
scored
on target
options (%)
Proportion
of target
options
scoring less
than 1% of
total points
Average %
of points
scored
per target
option
South Cumbria Low Fells
11
44
45
4.0
South Purbeck
23
43
78
1.9
Black Mountains and Golden
Valley
26
41
73
1.6
Sefton Coast
30
40
60
1.3
Northumberland Sandstone
Hills
23
40
52
1.7
Bedfordshire and
Cambridgeshire Cla
19
38
63
2.0
Rockingham Forest
25
36
80
1.4
Durham Coalfield Pennine
Fringe
13
24
62
1.8
Howgill Fells
10
9
70
0.9
Inner London
10
0
100
0.0
Isle of Porland
27
0
100
0.0
Isles of Scilly
25
0
100
0.0
Joint Character Area
165
Published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
© Crown Copyright 2008.
Printed on material that contains a minimum of 100% recycled fibre
for uncoated paper and 75% recycled fibre for coated paper.
www.defra.gov.uk
PB 13076
May 2008
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