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Environmental Land Management Scheme

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL10784, tabled on 26 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) advice they intend to provide to, and (2) advisory service they intend to set up for, those (a) people, (b) enterprises, and (c) organisations, eligible for funding under the Environmental Land Management Scheme; and how any such advice and services will be funded.

Answered on

10 December 2020

Evidence from Defra’s Environmental Land Management Tests and Trials and other sources shows that effective advice and guidance leads to better, more sustained environmental outcomes. For advice to be effective it needs to be trusted and based on expertise, credibility and local knowledge. This evidence has informed the approach to advice and guidance for the Environmental Land Management National Pilot, which will start in 2021 and run for three years.

The National Pilot will combine several elements of advice and guidance, working on the assumption that the scheme should, for the most part, be simple enough for a land manager to apply unassisted. Nevertheless, we assume many may still seek advice. We will use the National Pilot to learn from advisers and land managers what they require across all phases of the pilot, prior to full roll out of Environmental Land Management in 2024.

Firstly, there will be comprehensive guidance, developed by experts across Defra group, published on GOV.UK that covers how and why to apply and how best to deliver the environmental outcomes the scheme can pay for. Defra will improve guidance content and navigation using Tests and Trials and user feedback throughout the pilot.

Secondly, there will be a National Pilot Field Team to gather learning from land managers and advisers. This will be operated by Defra and advisers from its arm’s length bodies.

Thirdly, Defra’s arm’s length bodies will provide advice on statutory responsibilities and assisting regulatory permissions. They will also play a role in formally assessing outcomes and compliance, which will take a fairer more supportive and effective approach.

We also recognise the need to improve land managers’ skills and knowledge directly, to meet the challenges of agricultural transition and reduce reliance on advice. We will introduce learning and information sessions for participating land managers and will engage with agricultural training providers to explore how their courses can better support the industry for the future.

As announced in the Agricultural Transition Plan, the Government will contribute towards the establishment of a new professional body, the Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture, which will establish a professional framework, providing farmers with a recognised pathway for training.

We think land managers should pay for any additional on-farm advice when applying for the pilot and implementing their agreement, using either their existing trusted adviser or employing one from the advice market, and payment rates will need to allow for this cost.

The need to employ an adviser should be reduced if the scheme is demonstrably simpler and less risky than previous schemes and if published guidance is accessible and effective. This means when an adviser is employed they can be focused where they add most value.

As with land manager training, we will help advisers to upskill so that they can provide a high-quality service to land managers during transition. We are identifying the key skills and knowledge required for advisers to support applicants effectively. We will work with existing certification providers rather than launching a scheme-specific certification.