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Environmental Stewardship and Improved GHG Mitigation - Amending Current, and Introducing New, Options - BD2305

Environmental Stewardship (ES) is a key Defra policy, delivered by Natural England (NE), which:
• contributes to meeting Defra’s existing Public Service Agreement targets on Sites of Special Scientific Interest and farmland birds;
• helps 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;
• articulates Government policy on CAP reform by utilising resources transferred from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2, and thereby targeting support at public benefits; and
• distributes about 80% of the expenditure under the draft Rural Development Programme for England.

ES was launched in March 2005 following the recommendation of the Curry Commission that a ‘broad and shallow’ agri-environment scheme should be developed to complement the previous narrowly focused approach, and the 2002-2004 Agri-Environment Review. Under the ‘broad and shallow’ Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), farmers are free to choose from a national menu of options those they consider appropriate to their circumstances, without the benefit of adviser guidance. Eligibility is open to all. Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is similar to ELS but is designed to recognise the environmental benefits, and to encourage the continued expansion, of organic production in England by encouraging conversion, in order to help producers meet more of the increasing demand for organically produced food. OELS is open to farmers and land managers with land registered with an organic inspection body for England. Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) is actively targeted towards land of particular environmental value and is a competitive scheme under which only those applications assessed as delivering the best outcomes are selected. The first ELS / OELS agreements began in August 2005 and the first HLS agreements started in February 2006.

Under the draft Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2007-13 about £2.9 billion is expected to be spent under agri-environment schemes (the majority on ES, with a small amount needed to fund the remaining years of contracts made under previous schemes).

The uptake of ES is as follows:
• ELS/OELS – 33,000 agreements - £145m/year commitment
• ELS/OELS - 4.9 million hectares under agreement, over 50 % of agricultural land in England
• HLS – over 1,500 agreements - £30m/year
• HLS - 110,000 hectares
• Over 60 % of agricultural land is covered by agri-environment schemes (old and new).

Climate change mitigation is one of 3 EU strategic priorities for Axis 2 expenditure under the Rural Development Regulation. ES, a measure under Axis 2 of the RDR through which almost 80% of England’s rural development budget will be spent (£2.9bn over 7 years) does not explicitly address climate change mitigation. In submitting the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) to the EC, we have made a written commitment to rectifying this in future. It is likely that climate change will be added as an overarching theme to ES, alongside the current objectives.

A study (B D2302) has already been conducted into the climate change mitigation impact of ES as it currently stands. It is now necessary to ensure that ES is delivering the maximum possible in terms of climate change mitigation by amending current, and incorporating new, options where appropriate.

A ES review of progress (RoP) is currently underway and it is hoped that some of the changes recommended from this study could be implemented alongside changes identified under the RoP. This study will take into account as far as possible, changes that have been recommended through the RoP and changes that have been made to ES in order to secure EU approval of the RDPE, as far as possible.

In addition, it is likely that a tier of ELS, specifically for the uplands, will replace the Hill Farm Allowance from 2010. Like OELS, Uplands ELS will be an optional and supplementary strand to ELS. The approximate spend will be £24m/year. This study will consider whether some climate change mitigation methods would be more suited to implementation through this tier of the scheme than the existing ones.
To meet commitments under the Environmental Stewardship (ES) Review of Progress, this study will:

a) examine current ES options and recommend changes which would increase their climate change mitigation impact;

b)assess proposed new ES options (resulting from the current ES Review of Programme) for their likely impact on climate change;
c) review mitigation methods identified in the reports by IGER (AC0206), NERA (GHG trading schemes), and the University of Hertfordshire (BD2302) and elsewhere and suggest if and how they could be incorporated into ES.

d) Suggest any further research and development that is needed to be in a position to introduce changes to ES to further improve the schemes climate change mitigation impact in future.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : BD2305 Feb 09 Final report 22 dec   (427k)
• OTH - Other : BD2305 Feb 09 Table 2 Summary of Current ES Options   (191k)
• OTH - Other : BD2305 Feb 09 Table 4 Summary of possible new or substantially altered options 4   (49k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2008

Cost: £20,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Roger Unwin
Climate and Weather              
Climate Change              
Environmental Protection              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship