UK: ELS Renewals - Agreements Due For Renewal In 2010

Last Updated: 23 December 2009
Article by Susan Shaw

The five-year ELS agreements are due for renewal in 2010. We outline the key actions required.

In 2010, nearly 14,000 Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) agreements will come up for renewal. Natural England (NE) has a target of 70% of the Utilisable Agricultural Area (UAA) in England to be under an environmental agreement. The area currently in schemes is just under 66%. Therefore, just to keep levels where they are, never mind increase them to the target figure, a high proportion of those ELS agreement holders will need to resign. NE hopes to get a renewal rate of around 90%.

There is a question mark over whether this rate will be achieved. The ELS has changed since it was launched in 2005, when the agreements now ending were entered into. Significantly, the loss of management plans will make it more difficult for many businesses to reach the 30 points per hectare (Ha) total. Furthermore, for those considering renewing their agreement, the fact that the scheme has changed means that they will not be allowed to simply 'tick a box' to sign up for a further five years. They will have to complete a new application form and submit associated maps.

All existing agreement holders with an ELS agreement expiring in 2010 will be sent a letter (if they have not already) stating their agreement is due for renewal. A reply card and envelope will be included. The card will ask a number of questions – 'Do you wish to renew your ELS agreement?', 'Will you be renewing using ELS online?', 'Will an agent be handling your renewal?', and 'Has you landholding changed since 2005?'

In February 2010, application packs will be sent out together with new Environmental Stewardship handbooks (3rd edition). Those that indicate they will be using ELS online will be sent log-in details rather than the normal paper application forms. ELS online includes a measuring tool and automatically calculates points. For more information, e-mail els.online@naturalengland.org.uk

The application pack will also include the final claim form for the existing agreement. To prevent any gaps between agreements, both the claim and new application must be submitted to NE two months before the start of any new agreement.

Farmers in Wales and Scotland should be receiving their SP as we go to press, while the RPA expects to make 75% of their payments by 31 January 2010.

2009 SPS conversion rate and regional area payments

The European Central Bank's official exchange rate on 30 September is used to convert Single Payments (SP) from euros to sterling. This year's rate was fixed at €1 = 90.93p; a 15% increase on last year and the most favourable rate since the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) started in 2005. The table shows previous rates.

Most UK farmers will receive a larger SP this year, even though modulation increases slightly between 2008 and 2009.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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