Many lowland farmers will lose out under interim Environmental Stewardship measures, says farm business consultancy Strutt & Parker.
Large numbers of farmers will have to wait until 2015 for new schemes to be available.
The arrangements have now been spelled out as follows: all Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (UELS) and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements starting before December 31, will continue for the duration of the agreement, subject to any changes necessary due to the introduction of greening under CAP reform.
New schemes will be available to those agreements ending after January 1, 2015, and HLS will be available for sites delivering the highest environmental benefits, such as SSSIs and some expiring classic schemes.
New ELS agreements (under 2013 rules) will be available only for the following: Those coming out of classic scheme agreements (Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS), Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA)) who will not be offered an HLS agreement; Those in the Uplands (Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA)) who have either not previously had a classic scheme agreement and who either have never been in ELS or who have an expiring ELS (rather than UELS) agreement; and those wishing to enter Organic ELS.