AS another cold snap hits the region, Natural England is reminding farmers in Environmental Stewardship schemes that derogations are available to help cope with the extreme weather conditions.
It is temporarily lifting some land management requirements for both livestock farmers and for growers.
In the event of more heavy snow, livestock farmers with agri-environments agreement that include restrictions on supplementary feeding will be permitted to provide extra feed.
Natural England said it would be a temporary relaxation for the duration of any severe cold weather period and anyone who wanted to provide supplementary feeding should get in touch.
However, the organisation pointed out that if there is further heavy snowfall this winter would mean farmers would not have to ask for consent before starting supplementary feeding.
It said that wherever possible, land not under agri-environment land management options should be used first for supplementary feeding.
Where that is not possible and land within the scheme has to be used, Natural England said that agri-environment land can be used for supplementary feeding.
However, in order to reduce damage to the land, farmers are advised to move the feeding area frequently and to ensure all leftover forage was completely removed to reduce damage to the sward after the snow has thawed.
But those on SSSI-designated land should contact their Natural England adviser before undertaking supplementary feeding, the organisations said.
Natural England said that supplementary feeding may continue for four days after the snow has cleared if the ground remains frozen but should stop as soon as the ground thaws.
Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s director for land management, said: “Farmers are facing some very difficult conditions on their land this winter and we continue to provide help and advice wherever we can to support the farming community.
“We will ensure that appropriate derogations are available to help our Environmental Stewardship agreement customers to deal with some of the problems that this winter’s very bad weather is causing.”
In addition, areas hit by severe flooding that are continuing to struggle with very wet ground conditions and are facing problems carrying out specific Environmental Stewardship options until the spring are being urged to contact Natural England for advice about a derogation.
Weather-related requests for derogations will differ from site to site and will be discussed with agreement holders on an individual basis.
Visit www.naturalengland.org.uk/es for derogation advice.