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

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

  • Agri-environment schemes—the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme
  • Management options
  • Eligibility
  • Higher Level Stewardship Scheme agreements
  • Other requirements
  • The Cross Compliance Conditions
  • Higher Level Stewardship Scheme payments and penalties
  • Dealings with Higher Level Stewardship Scheme land
  • Creation of grassland may become permanent
  • 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 Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme is one element of the Environmental Stewardship Scheme, managed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) (in succession to Natural England) as part of the Rural Development Programme for England, to promote effective environmental management of agricultural land in England.

The HLS Scheme is a voluntary, grant-funded scheme that is designed to deliver significant environmental benefits by agreement with farmers, land managers and tenants in 110 high-priority areas in England. These areas have been targeted by Natural England in terms of wildlife, landscape, the historic environment and resource protection.

Applications are considered for land outside these areas, but acceptance is dependent on:

  1. the national priorities at the time of the application, and

  2. features present on the particular holding

The HLS Scheme is usually combined with one or more of the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme the Uplands Entry Level Stewardship Scheme or the Organic Entry Level Stewardship Scheme options (or may even be combined with one of the closed agri-environment schemes, ie the Environmentally Sensitive Areas