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ELM Test & Trial update, January - March 2020 (click to expand)

An infographic present key data and early results for Farming for the Nation

Towards the end of 2019, contractors were engaged and contracts signed.

Activity to date from January to March 2020 has been delivered in 3 key areas:

  • Engaging with farmers and landowners to confirm participation in the T&T. 200 farms have agreed to take part to date, with more to be recruited. AONB teams are specifically selecting participants from a diverse range of backgrounds to test ELM in different settings.
  • Gathering environmental data to underpin individual Landscape Management Plans and wider landscape frameworks.​​​​​​​
  • Reviewing existing plans to help guide special prioritisation. In most cases the trial areas have now been defined. AONB Management Plans area a key part of this process for all 12 projects.

 

Common threads

In addition to the 5 initial learnings presented in the infographic above, there are consistent themes that run across the 12 projects.

Firstly, preliminary studies have shown that AONB Management Plans function well in their main role; that of creating a continuous thread joining national and local priorities. As anticipated, work is needed to bridge the gap between coarse-grained Management Plans and setting detailed priorities for farm/field-scale ELM agreements. The T&T will continue to address closing this gap effectively, including reinterpretation of data by experts, surveying to fill geographic gaps, and identifying innovative approaches to gathering relevant datasets.

Secondly, the AONBs are being innovative in their response to communication challenges as a result of Covid-19. All 12 projects quickly started looking at new ways of communicating to keep on track, and plans will continue to evolve depending on the degree of lockdown sustained over the coming months.

In a similar vein, although the online ELM consultation has been paused during the virus outbreak, the NAAONB continues to work closely with Natural England and the National Parks to ensure an aligned response is ready when consultation is re-opened.

Last but not least, projects report a strong willingness from participants to engage with the T&T process, and a desire to overcome what they perceive as the shortcomings of previous schemes. Firm foundations have been laid despite difficult conditions, enabling rapid progress as and when the situation allows.

 

Key points from Defra

  • Defra’s ELM consultation has been paused due to Covid-19. The location of the survey (when it reopens) is here.
  • To aid the transition to ELM, Defra strongly recommends that interested parties apply for the new format Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme to maintain income as BPS payments are phased out. It will support transition to ELM, and leaving CS early to move to ELM will be facilitated.
  • There will be additional support outside of ELM available during the transition period:
    • Funding will be made available for animal welfare activities, targeted at farmers who want to significantly raise their standard of husbandry.
    • Investment support will be available for equipment and technology that enables increases in productivity.
    • Defra will be supporting research and development food projects that deliver environmental benefits.

As we receive more information on funding we will update this page.

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Come back soon for more updates!

We are currently preparing the April to June 2020 update, so stay tuned!