We aim to be consistent and transparent in our approach to the transition of Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) agreements to Environmental Stewardship (ES).
To support this, we are developing a series of documents setting out the ‘rationales’ for transfers of agreements in the 22 ESAs into ES. These capture how advisors are dealing with expiring agreements and indicate:
whether land in each ESA tier should most appropriately transfer to HLS or ELS/Uplands ELS and
the most appropriate HLS or ELS / Uplands ELS options to continue the environmental management.
Your local adviser will refer to the rationales to help in discussing your potential for HLS, or to explain decisions made about your agreement.
Information on why we are moving from ESAs to Environmental Stewardship is available in each of the rationale documents below.
Almost all ESA land can be transferred into ES, but there is no automatic right to enter into HLS.
HLS is designed to support delivery of priority environmental benefits.
HLS agreements are developed primarily by invitation from Natural England. Potential sites are identified through an initial assessment by advisers and confirmed following HLS clinics as part of the 3-Tier HLS process. Applications not via this route are the exception.
There is an expectation that lower Tier land, especially Tier 1, will transfer to ELS unless there are very specific reasons for HLS (for example, key farmland birds options, historic environment, key supporting areas for SPAs etc). Similarly, grassland reversions driven by landscape priorities will transfer to ELS.
Although land has been under ESA management for at least 10 years (often 20 years) the focus of ESAs was to ‘protect from harm’ rather than enhance the environmental interests.
Advisers are aware of the potential impact of the change in regime that can come with the change from ESA to ES, particularly HLS. We can only consider offering HLS agreements that will deliver the relevant environmental outcomes, but in negotiating these advisers are aware of potential impact that abrupt changes to stocking levels, grazing seasons and management generally could have on the wider farming business.
We recognise that HLS delivery depends on agreement holders carrying out an agreed programme of works, which in most cases relies on a financially viable wider farm business.
Where sites have received habitat restoration works over the last 20 years, and the desired habitats have yet to develop, there must be some question over what further improvement can be expected from another 10 years of restoration. Such sites may be more suited to ELS.
The rationale documents for each ESA are available via the links below (more will be published online shortly). In addition, there are a set of ‘summary documents’ for each ESA which just contain the key ES opportunities for each ESA and the tables showing the expected ES equivalent for each ESA tier.
|ESA||Full rationale documents for each ESA||Summary of ES opportunities for each ESA|
|Norfolk Broads||Norfolk Broads rationale: (155kb)||Norfolk Broads summary: (126kb)|
|Pennine Dales||Pennine Dales rationale: (238kb)||Pennine Dales summary: (223kb)|
|Somerset Levels and Moors||Somerset Levels and Moors rationale: (173kb)||Somerset Levels and Moors summary: (140kb)|
|South Downs||South Downs rationale: (152kb)||South Downs summary: (133kb)|
|West Penwith||West Penwith rationale: (169kb)||West Penwith summary: (137kb)|
|Breckland||Breckland rationale: (167kb)||Breckland summary: (136kb)|
|Clun Forest||Clun Forest rationale: (165kb)||Clun Forest summary: (121kb)|
|North Peak||North Peak rationale: (200kb)||North Peak summary: (169kb)|
|Suffolk River Valleys||Suffolk River Valleys rationale: (163kb)||Suffolk River Valleys summary: (132kb)|
|Test Valley||Test Valley rationale: (162kb)||Test Valley summary: (131kb)|
|Avon Valley||Avon Valley rationale: (164kb)||Avon Valley summary: (132kb)|
|Exmoor||Exmoor rationale: (170kb)||Exmoor summary: (139kb)|
|Lake District||Lake District rationale: (221kb)||Lake District summary: (193kb)|
|North Kent Marshes||North Kent Marshes rationale: (158kb)||North Kent Marshes summary: (130kb)|
|South Wessex Downs||South Wessex Downs rationale: (168kb)||South Wessex Downs summary: (138kb)|
|South West Peak||South West Peak rationale: (167kb)||South West Peak summary: (137kb)|
|Blackdown Hills||Blackdown Hills rationale: (165kb)||Blackdown Hills summary: (135kb)|
|Cotswold Hills||Cotswold Hills rationale: (185kb)||Cotswold Hills summary: (156kb)|
|Dartmoor||Dartmoor rationale: (173kb)||Dartmoor summary: (142kb)|
|Essex Coast||Essex Coast rationale: (111kb)||Essex Coast summary: (81kb)|
|Shropshire Hills||Shropshire Hills rationale: (164kb)||Shropshire Hills summary: (132kb)|
|Upper Thames Tributaries||Upper Thames Tributaries rationale: (163kb)||Upper Thames Tributaries summary: (131kb)|