To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to trial a protocol-type Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) advisory service as a part of the piloting of ELMS.
10 December 2020
We are developing our Environmental Land Management offer in partnership with farmers and other stakeholders, including representatives from some leading farm and land management advice providers. We are doing this through a series of tests and trials, 71 to date with more in preparation, which are already underway, and through a National Pilot which will start in 2021. Forty-three tests and trials have been providing findings on the role of and need for trusted, technically competent advisers with local knowledge, which have been and continue to be fed into the development of our approach. The National Pilot will be available for up to 5,500 farmers who want to be involved in helping us to learn and co-design the full ambition of our new schemes.
In line with our policy for on-farm advice to come largely from the marketplace, we will use the National Pilot to build skills and capacity in that market through training and learning from advisers as they support their clients. To support them in this we will provide introductory information sessions for advisers from early 2021 (online at first), ahead of applications for Phase 1 of the National Pilot being invited. As well as offering a reminder of the context of agricultural transition, they will go into more detail on the mechanics of the Sustainable Farming Incentive component, related regulations and consents and permissions. We intend these to be made available to participating land managers too.
Training content and delivery will be continuously improved throughout the National Pilot, applying established training evaluation methodology to learn from previous phases. Training 'top-ups' will be put in place to update those who participated in earlier sessions as the later components of the Pilot (and wider future farming and countryside programme schemes) are rolled out.
Defra's arms-length bodies will also help, drawing on their expertise to develop scheme guidance and training products as well as the supporting assessment for essential consents, permits that may be required by participants in the National Pilot. They are also likely to provide compliance checks, which will themselves be more focused towards advice and support where possible rather than just penalties.
We will develop through the pilot a fuller adviser and land manager training package with a stronger element of quality assurance in a way that can be scaled up to meet demand as we approach full roll-out in 2024. This may include potential for commercial delivery or other market provider solutions.
We will use the National Pilot to learn from advisers and land managers what they require across all Phases of the National Pilot.
In sum, the National Pilot will enable us to build on the findings of a range of Tests and Trials to co-design, learn and refine how advice is best delivered when Environmental Land Management is fully rolled out in 2024. The approach at that point will reflect the learning obtained and may differ from what I have set out.