The new system will replace basic annual payments with a ‘public money to deliver public goods’ deal. Farmers will be required to meet new legal requirements on environmental standards in return for public financial support.
These standards will include:
- air & water quality improvements
- improving wildlife habitats
- enhancing rural landscapes
- mitigating flood risks
- efficient resource use
- waste reduction
- combating climate change
ELMS is currently being tested in a number of locations around the UK. A national pilot scheme is up and running and DEFRA wants 1,250 farmers added to this by the end of 2022. The full scheme is intended to go live by the end of 2028.
The Agriculture Bill which will implement ELMs is still ongoing through Parliament. Here’s some of the areas which the Secretary of State wants to provide finance to farmers and landowners:
Defra is proposing a three tier scheme, which allows for engagement with the scheme at multiple levels.
TIER 1Adopting or continuing existing farm-level practices that improve sustainability and enhance environmental benefits, such as cover crops or wildflower margins. Practices that are most effective when delivered at scale will be the focus.
This tier is about collaboration between farmers, foresters and other land managers who focus on locally targeted environmental outcomes, taking into account priorities in the local area. There will be mechanisms to encourage and reward join-up .
TIER 3The third tier of the scheme is about large-scale land-use change projects that are aimed at the UK’s 2050 Net-Zero efforts. Projects might include carbon storage initiatives e.g. new woodlands, restoring peatlands or creating new wetlands and salt marshes. Biodiversity and flood mitigation will also be expected to be considered alongside carbon reduction.
We can help you navigate these tricky new waters with Environmental Assessments of your land. Energy crops tick many, if not all, of the boxes that require attention in order to qualify for ELMS payments. Now is the time to start looking at how your farm finances will change when current funding schemes cease. Diversification is key – there are plenty of agri-environment schemes to sign up for right now. Contact us for more details.