• Since leaving the European Union the UK has also left the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In 2020 Parliament provided the legislative framework to replace the agricultural support schemes provided by CAP and a new sustainable farming scheme will be introduced. 

    The Agriculture Act 2020 has enabled Government to begin phasing out the direct payment scheme (Basic Payment Scheme) provided under CAP. The Government will phase out this scheme over seven years, gradually reducing payments and stopping all together in 2028. Instead, in England, farmers will be paid for the produce of ‘public goods’, such as environmental or animal welfare improvements. For the purposes of this scheme, the term “Farmers” includes farmers, tenants, landowners, land managers, growers and foresters.

    What is the Environmental Land Management scheme?

    The new scheme, focusing on the produce of environmental improvements under ‘public goods’, is called the ‘Environmental Land Management’ (ELM) scheme. ELM will eventually replace Countryside Stewardship that began its roll out in early 2020. This scheme will be funded by the gradual reduction of the BPS payment. Farmers will be paid to improve the environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, build resilience against climate change and increase sustainability in the farming sector. The scheme currently consists of three different areas, these are:

    Sustainable Farming Incentive

    This scheme will pay farmers for actions that manage land in a sustainable way. The pilot scheme has already begun and it will launch fully in 2022.

    Local Nature Recovery

    This scheme will pay for actions such as creating, managing or restoring habitats, natural flood management and species management. The pilot scheme will begin in 2022 and launch in 2024.

    Landscape Recovery

    This scheme will pay for actions of large-scale forest and woodland creation, peatland restoration and creation/restoration of coastal habitats. The pilot scheme will begin in 2022 and launch in 2024.


    The Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot launched in October 2020 and other schemes will soon be available. These include:

    • Tree Health Pilot (launching in 2024);
    • Protected Landscape Scheme;
    • Farming Investment Fund (launching in 2022); and
    • Slurry Investment Scheme (launching in 2022 – 2023).

    Information will be added to GOV.UK when these future pilots are open for applications.

    Farmers will initially only be eligible for the schemes under ELM if they are a recipient of the BPS. However, the schemes under ELM will eventually open up to all farmers.  The scheme will give farmers an opportunity to secure a complementary income stream to their farm business by undertaking sustainable farming actions that benefit the wider environment.

    How we can help

    If you are eligible for the scheme and need more advice or guidance, our commercial specialists in rural business will be able to support you. We can work with you to develop commercial strategies and enterprises to help you engage with this scheme in a profitable way.

    This content is correct at time of publication

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Agriculture and Rural page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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