Final Application dates for HLS and UELS/ELS and news scheme development

Curent schemes

The current agri-environment scheme ends on 31st December 2013. The final application date for ELS is 1st September 2013. HLS applications should already be in train.

Transition arrangements

The New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) is not due to start until 1st January 2016, leaving a two year transition gap in which 17,000 agri-environment agreements expire nationally. The NFU is discussing with Defra how this gap should be handled. Their preferred position, and one which the Federation agrees with, is for expiring agreements to have the option to roll forward until the start of the NELMS, 1st January 2016. There is a transition section on their website http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/farming/funding/transition2014-2020.aspx A Transition Q&A briefing (reviewed March 2013): (246kb)pdf document has been produced by Defra and provides the latest information on what is known about how expiring agreements will be managed during the transitional period.

New scheme development

Natural England is publishing scheme development bulletins that outline  the development of the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) which will replace the current agri-environment scheme post CAP see http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/scheme-development-bulletin-april-2013_tcm6-35630.pdf. The document contains a timeline for the development process. In addition Natural England has created a new section on its website to deal with agri-environment scheme development see http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/farming/funding/developments.aspx.

Moving to uniform start dates in the next Rural Development Programme

Defra have confirmed that, from 2015 onwards, all new agri-environment agreements will have a single start date of 1 January in every year, rather than monthly start dates as at present.

In addition, the claim periods for all current ES agreements will be realigned to a January to December year. This means that, for example, an agreement starting on 1 May and ending 30 April would be realigned so that the claim period is synchronised to January to December, with annual payments being for work undertaken from January to December, rather than May to April.

Defra have produced a Uniform Start Dates Q&A briefing: (55kb)pdf document to provide more information on the reasons for this change and how it will affect customers.