The Environmental Land Management Scheme - A generational opportunity for change?
For decades, agricultural policy in the United Kingdom has been dominated by the European Union. Many have become accustomed to the Common Agricultural Policy, providing a mutual approach across Europe for decades. However, with Britain’s departure from the EU now complete, a revolution for our rural landscapes could soon be underway.
The Agricultural Act will present a new era for British farming, with a number of key changes. One of the most significant being the removal of the Basic Payment Scheme. The EU has used the BPS as its subsidy system, replacing the Single Payment Scheme in 2015. With the Agricultural Act, a British replacement will be introduced, this is called the ELM scheme.
The Environmental Land Management Schemes propose a real shake up to rural Britain.
The target is a full roll out by 2024, with more emphasis on sustainable farming, tackling climate change and preserving natural spaces. The slogan “public goods for public money” has attached itself to the scheme, hinting at some key ecological changes.
Environmental reform is at the heart of the scheme which proposes the use of a tiered approach (where have we heard that before!). The development of wildflower meadows, woodlands and peatlands will be encouraged. Creating more wild spaces is imperative for our wildlife and if done on a large enough scale, could help lockup carbon and even reduce future flood risks.
Farmers who actively improve environmental sustainability should be greatly rewarded. Those who take steps to reverse the effects of soil depletion should be compensated, as well as those who adopt organic farming methods. Hopefully, with this approach, we can find the right balance between production and improving our rural landscapes.
The government has a generational opportunity to change our rural landscapes for the better, allowing efficient farming and natural habitats to peacefully coexist. With clear messaging and definitive action, the Agricultural Act and the ELM scheme has the opportunity to make a real difference.
For more information on the Agricultural Act and the ELM scheme, visit http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-environmental-land-management-scheme-an-overview