Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

How will the Government’s new Environmental Land Management scheme differ from the existing one?

01/04/19How will the Government’s new Environmental Land Management scheme differ from the existing one?

DEFRA and Natural England have begun work developing the country’s post-Brexit Environmental Land Management System, currently referred to as ELM.


DEFRA’S vision for the new scheme is to:

Over the last few years DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency have invested huge amounts of money in IT systems and infrastructure so, despite Brexit, they can’t justify a wholesale change in approach. However, the Government is almost certainly going to alter the valuation methodology for establishing the amount of money each option will be worth.

At present, we have an area-based payment under Pillar 1 (Basic Payment) and loss of earnings + cost valuation method for Pillar 2 (Agri Environment Schemes). A government working party has been set up to establish new valuation principles for valuing “Natural Capital”. This aims to reward land managers for providing a society benefit.

Natural Capital: ‘elements of nature that directly or indirectly produce value to people, including ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, minerals, the air and oceans’ (source houses of parliament postnote 542)

The working party aims to place a financial value on the actions land managers can take to protect and enhance the nation’s resources under their control. This will include mitigating climate change, through enhancing carbon sequestration in soils/ peat, planting trees and reducing inputs, as well as decreasing hazards to eco-systems by water course protection, predator control and habitat preservation. They will also explore the public benefit of increased access to the countryside. Studies show that rural pursuits can reduce levels of anxiety and depression, which, in theory, could be measured by cost savings to the NHS and a decrease in stress-related absences in the workplace. We need to ensure that this gives our industry a larger platform to educate society about the amazing work being done every day by land managers.  

Over the next two years the working party will develop a design and test new ideas. A large-scale pilot is planned for 2021-2024 with a full roll-out planned for 2025-2028.


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