Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) What Are The Changes?

23rd April 2012

What is HLS?

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) is a targeted and competitive scheme that is only available to farmers and land managers in particular areas of the country or with particular high priority features on their holding.

Depending on the features on your farm, there are a variety of HLS management options and capital items which may be suitable to deliver the best environmental outcomes. But, unlike ELS, the level of payments you receive depends on the number of options you are able to deliver.

All of your farm can be entered into ELS with some parcels in HLS, as appropriate.

3-Tier Approach

From 1 July 2011, a 3-Tier application process is in place for HLS, where each application will be dealt with differently according to the complexity of the land management involved. There will be a “fast track” tier for small, straightforward proposals, a “standard” tier for holdings where a maximum of two visits by a Natural England advisor is required and a “complex” tier which may need up to four advisor visits. Whilst Natural England are trying to achieve a more efficient internal process, it is still important that farmers consider their options thoroughly and take advice from outside advisors in order to negotiate the most favourable agreement and maximise value.

FEP Pipeline “Clinics”

In an attempt to make HLS more effective, Natural England have introduced these “clinics” to provide FEP surveyors and agents with the opportunity to discuss potential HLS applications with Natural England and to agree expectations for the proposed HLS programmes for future years.

Although Natural England will invite certain farmers to apply, it is also possible for agents to promote holdings if there is thought to be potential.

Therefore, whether you have received an invitation from Natural England for HLS or you wish to communicate your interest in the scheme, contact Pippa Cartwright or Linda Rukin at George F White for more information.

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