Natural England - New Environmental Stewardship handbooks now available online

New Environmental Stewardship handbooks now available online

16 October 2012

The fourth edition of the Environmental Stewardship (ES) handbooks are now available on the Natural England website containing details of a suite of new options and updates aimed at increasing the environmental benefits and value for money of the schemes.

Printed copies are expected to be available week commencing 22 October.

The new handbooks are effective from 1st January 2013. As well as the introduction of five new options, changes will also be made to a number of other ES option titles, prescriptions and point values.

The new handbooks will automatically be sent to any farmer or land manager who has requested an application pack but has not yet submitted an application. The fourth edition handbooks terms and conditions will legally apply to any ES agreement with a start date of 1st January 2013 onwards. Any customer with an existing agreement who wishes to amend it to incorporate one of the new options, should review the guidance at

Acceptance into Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is determined by a simple points per hectare calculation across the whole farm. Providing a valid application is submitted in which the points target is achieved, the scheme conditions are met and the applicant agrees to deliver the options, funding will automatically be received.

Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s Land Management Director said: “The changes to the scheme gave us the opportunity to rethink the format of the information in the ELS and OELS handbooks to make them more user friendly. We hope applicants will find them clearer and easier to navigate. We’ve also included information to help applicants choose the most beneficial ELS and OELS options for their farm. We can arrange for an environmental specialist to visit your farm to offer help in identifying those options which best fit your farming practices and provide good environmental benefits. ELS customers may be able to save considerable time by applying online.”

Some of the new options are aimed at improving provision for farmland birds. Natural England’s Senior Ornithology Specialist, Phil Grice, gives an example: “Studies have shown that fields managed as Ryegrass Seed-Set [EK20/OK20] can become a haven for birds such as yellowhammers and reed buntings during the winter and early spring. Under this option, the last silage cut is not taken, so rye grass seed is available during the ‘hungry gap’. Also, as this option is retained longer than stubble options, it means that seed is available for a longer period”.

The new handbooks can be found online link


For further information contact: Linzee Kottman on 0300 060 2058, 07824334819, out of hours 07970 098005. For more information about Natural England, please visit: link
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How to apply

Entry Level Stewardship and Uplands Entry Level Stewardship

You can choose to apply for ELS or Uplands ELS online or by post.


Applying online is quick and easy and has many advantages:

  • it is easier to make alterations to your application before it is submitted;
  • there is a calculator to convert your mapping measurements into ELS points;
  • it saves considerable time when submitting applications.

To apply online, phone: 0300 060 3934 Or e-mail: Or for further information visit our website.

By post:

To receive an application pack call 0300 060 0011 to be put through to your local Natural England office. You will need to provide the following information:

  • your name and correspondence address;
  • your vendor number; and
  • the County Parish Holding (CPH) number/s covering the eligible RLR land parcels you are entering into ELS/OELS.

We will then send you a pre-filled application pack.

Organic Entry Level Stewardship

Applications should be made by post as they cannot be made online.

Higher Level Stewardship

You should contact your local Natural England office for a pre-application discussion. Applications should be made by post as they cannot be made online.


From 1st January 2013, a number of changes to ELS and Organic ELS options will take effect. The type of changes being made include:

  • The introduction of five new options
  • Changes to the titles of options
  • Changes to the points value of options
  • Clarification or changes to the detailed option prescriptions
  • Removal of one Uplands ELS option

The changes are being introduced as a result of the Making Environmental Stewardship More Effective (MESME) project. This was a Defra-led project which aimed to improve the delivery of environmental outcomes from ES. The project was set up in response to a number of high profile reports that clearly concluded that ES was capable of delivering more and better environmental outcomes. It involved Natural England and stakeholders including NFU, CLA, CAAV, RSPB and TFA.

About Natural England

Natural England is the government’s independent adviser 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 and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.

  • We run Environmental Stewardship and other 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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