As part of the 2010 Government Spending Review and in response to various monitoring reports, Defra Ministers undertook to make Environmental Stewardship (ES) more effective and better targeted. The MESME project was established in the autumn of 2010 to take this forward.
A Project Board was established with members drawn from Defra, Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency, the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency. Stakeholders were actively engaged and were responsible for developing many of the proposals. The Project was formally closed at the end of February 2013.
MESME was initially made up of five strands of work:
The MESME Project adapted to include trialling and testing a range of improvements to both HLS and ELS, aimed at more effective delivery of options on the ground. The trials specifically covered the scope for:
This report summarises the findings of the MESME Project: (372kb) and sets out over 60 individual proposals which were developed as part of the project. Each proposal has either been introduced from 1 January 2013 or will inform/be further developed as part of the new Rural Development Programme, due to start in 2015. In a few cases the proposal was deemed no longer appropriate or possible and has been dropped.
The European Commission have approved a set of new ES options for agreements starting on or after 1 January 2013. Four of the options will also be available for existing agreements which are amended from this date. The new options are:
|Option codes||Option name||Available to new / renewed agreements from 1 Jan 2013||Available as an amendment from 1 Jan 2013|
|EE12 / OE12||Supplement to add wildflowers to field corners and buffer strips|
|EF23 / OF23 / HF24||Supplementary feeding in winter for farmland birds|
|EK20 / OK20||Ryegrass seed set as winter/spring food for birds|
|EK21 / OK21||Legume and herb rich swards|
Details of these options are contained in the 4th edition of the ELS and OELS handbooks (Section 3) and HLS handbook (Section 2). More information is also available on ELS priority options, including how to select the best options for your farm, the priorities in each local area and what proportion should be included in an agreement.
The supplementary feeding in winter for farmland birds options (EF23/OF23/HF24) aim to tackle declines in populations of many seed-eating birds by providing a good supply of grains over the winter to help them through the ‘hungry gap’. Farmers are encouraged to incorporate the options into their agreements from 1 January 2013. More information is available on these options and how to incorporate into your agreement.
From 1 January 2013 there were also some changes to ES option prescriptions and points values. These changes apply to new ELS agreements, Organic ELS agreements and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements underpinned with ELS from that date. The changes, are set out in the information note: (177kb), and full details can be found in the ELS and OELS fourth edition handbooks.
A question and answer briefing note: (316kb) provides additional guidance on what farmers/land managers and agents/advisers need to know if they are:
For any further information or queries regarding the new options, please contact Customer Services on 0300 060 0011 or firstname.lastname@example.org