Agri-environment schemes—the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme
Agri-environment schemes—the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Agri-environment schemes—the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme
  • ELSS objectives
  • Management options
  • Eligibility
  • The ELSS agreement
  • The Cross Compliance Conditions
  • Payments and penalties
  • Scheme agreements
  • Disposals of land subject to ELSS
  • Common agricultural policy (CAP) reform 2014–2020

Brexit: The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. This has implications for the schemes providing for agricultural subsidies in England and Wales, which will no longer be derived from EU Common Agricultural Policy. We will introduce content to address the new regimes once the legislation (including the Agriculture Bill) has been enacted.

The Entry Level Stewardship Scheme (ELSS) is the basic level of the Environmental Stewardship Scheme, which is managed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) (in succession to Natural England) as part of the Rural Development Programme for England (2007–2013). ELSS encourages farmers to engage in a range of environmentally-friendly land management options.

ELSS also forms the gateway to participation in the higher level schemes within the Environmental Stewardship Scheme.

ELSS objectives

The principal objectives of ELSS are:

  1. conservation of wildlife

  2. maintenance and enhancement of landscape quality and character

  3. protection of the historic landscape, including archaeological features and traditional farm buildings

  4. promotion of public access and understanding of the countryside

  5. protection of natural resources, by improving water quality and reducing soil erosion and surface run-off

The secondary objectives of ELSS are genetic conservation, flood management and helping the natural environment to adapt to climate change.

Management options

The full range of management options are set out in the ELSS Handbook, fourth edition (NE 349) (as revised by the