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New Environmental Payment Scheme For Uplands

10 February 2010

UK - A new payment scheme for hill farmers who protect and look after England’s iconic uplands was launched by Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies in the Peak District on Tuesday (9 February).

The Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (Uplands ELS) scheme succeeds the Hill Farm Allowance (HFA) and is designed to support and reward farmers for looking after some of England’s most historic upland landscapes – such as the Yorkshire Dales, Dartmoor and the Lake District.

Through the scheme, hill farmers will be rewarded for looking after local wildlife, biodiversity and watercourses, and for maintaining traditional features of the landscape such as dry stone walls and stone-faced hedge banks.

Up to £31 million from the Rural Development Programme will be made available to fund all farmers who qualify for the scheme.

Mr Irranca-Davies said: “The uplands reflect a fundamental aspect of the English countryside – its history, natural beauty, and a way of life – and the new scheme rewards farmers who care for and protect these iconic landscapes.

“Uplands ELS will be available to all uplands farmers who make the commitment to protect wildlife, look after watercourses, and ensure that grazing helps the landscape, as well as looking after historic sites and dry-stone walls.”

Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England, said: “Farmers are custodians of this cherished part of our landscape and have been for centuries. Uplands ELS will help them to continue their good work in the future, linking together food production and a healthy natural environment. Not only will it benefit farmers, it will enhance the upland environment both for wildlife and for the many people who rely on it for food, water, leisure and climate change adaptation.”

Training, including workshops, demonstration days as well as individual visits will be available through Natural England to assist uplands and tenant farmers joining the scheme.

Hill farmers who join Uplands ELS will remain eligible for the Single Payment scheme, as well as other Environmental Stewardship schemes, such as Higher Level Stewardship, Entry Level Stewardship and Organic ELS.

Following extensive consultation with the farming industry, the scheme now incorporates further practical options, as well as an extension of HFA until this year to make joining the scheme even easier.

To qualify for the Uplands ELS, farmers will have to farm in the designated areas and meet a points threshold, adjusted for size of their farm, with points for a wide variety of land management practices including grazing cattle, maintaining dry stone walls, maintaining a minimum level of stock on moorlands, and not using fertiliser or supplementary feed within six metres of a water course.

Farmers can apply for Uplands ELS by requesting an application pack or using ELS Online. The first agreements will begin on 1 July and farmers seeking this start date should apply by 1 May.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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