Natural England - Helping farmers deal with the wet weather

28 November 2012

Natural England has circulated information about derogations for Environmental Stewardship agreement holders, please see below for the full media release from them:

"Natural England media release

For immediate use: 27 November 2012

Helping farmers deal with the wet weather
Derogations for Environmental Stewardship agreement holders

Wet weather is continuing to have a serious impact across large parts of the country and in addition to the well-publicised floods and transport disruption, many farmers and farm businesses are facing very difficult conditions.

To help them, Natural England is continuing to make derogations to Environmental Stewardship schemes available. This involves temporarily lifting some of the land management requirements that normally apply under Environmental Stewardship options, so that farmers and growers have more flexibility to deal with the impact of the wet weather. For example, due to wet ground conditions it will be difficult to establish grass margins, nectar pollen and wildbird mixes this winter and work on implementing this ES option may now have to wait until next spring.

Derogations have to be considered on an individual basis as the impacts of temporarily relaxing scheme conditions will be different from site to site. Natural England has already approved a number of applications and will continue to provide help and advice wherever it can to support the farming community.

Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s Director for Land Management (South) said: “Farmers are currently facing some very difficult conditions and we want to ensure that appropriate derogations are in place to help ES agreement holders tackle some of the problems that wet weather is causing.”

Farmers and land managers can get advice about Environmental Stewardship agreements and available derogations either through their local Natural England adviser or by calling Natural England on 0300 060 0011.

Advice on getting a derogation

Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) / Organic ELS agreements:
Agreement holders may proceed with the changes to their land management as soon as they have sent a Derogation Notice to Natural England.  There are a few exceptions, for example where SSSI land and archaeological sites are involved, and in these cases written consent is needed from Natural England before proceeding.  Full details are set out in the ELS scheme handbook and the OELS scheme handbook.  For further information or assistance call Natural England on 0300 060 0011.

Higher Level Stewardship agreements:
As each HLS agreement is tailored to individual circumstances, HLS agreement holders should contact their local Natural England adviser and a Derogation Notice form must be completed. The terms of the derogation will then be agreed between a Natural England adviser and the agreement holder and the proposed changes to management can be carried out once written confirmation of the derogation request has been received from Natural England. Full details are set out in the HLS Handbook.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS), Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) and Habitat Scheme
Arrangements are as for HLS – see above.

For further information (media enquiries only) please contact:
David Hirst on 0300 060 1720; 07827 821 679;
Linzee Kottman on 0300 060 2058, 07824 334 819;
Twitter: @NaturalEngland

Additional notes:

About Environmental Stewardship

Environmental stewardship schemes are administered by Natural England, on behalf of Defra, and fund farmers and land managers throughout England to deliver effective environmental management on their land.  For more information log onto

The objectives of Environmental Stewardship are to:
• Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
• Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
• Protect the historic environment and natural resources
• Conserve biodiversity

About Natural England
Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.
• We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
• We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and advising on their conservation.
• We run England’s Environmental Stewardship green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
• We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
• We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them."

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