Rural Development Schemes in England and Wales

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

  • Rural Development Schemes in England and Wales
  • Introduction
  • England
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Countryside Stewardship
  • Environmental Land Management
  • Other agricultural support under the Agriculture Act 2020
  • Superseded grant schemes
  • Wales
  • Other rural grants and payments
  • More...

Rural Development Schemes in England and Wales


Rural development schemes provide financial assistance to farmers who voluntarily agree to adopt agricultural practices which are beneficial to the environment. The amounts payable under these schemes are in addition to any financial support which farmers receive under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), but there are rules which prevent double funding. For further commentary in relation to the BPS, see Practice Note: The Basic Payment Scheme in England and Wales. Further guidance on the inter-relationship between current rural development schemes and the BPS is available on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Welsh Government websites.

Many existing rural development schemes originated under ‘pillar 2’ of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which provides financial support for rural development in accordance with a Rural Development Programme (RDP) devised by each Member State or by a region within each state. In the case of the UK, prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020 (Brexit), there were separate RDPs for each of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each RDP supported delivery of three overarching objectives:

  1. fostering the competitiveness of agriculture

  2. ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate action

  3. achieving a balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities including the creation and maintenance of employment


Environmental Stewardship

The Environmental Stewardship scheme was

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