We recognise there are competing demands for land across the UK from farmland, renewables, biodiversity and housing needs but there are also opportunities and overlaps that come from this.
With the introduction of DEFRA’s new agricultural policy, the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), we see this as an opportunity to work with farmers and landowners to adapt their farming practices to support wildlife and improve natural flood management.
Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS)
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) brought forward three new schemes in 2021 that will reward environmental land management:
- Sustainable Farming Incentive: This will pay farmers to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. The scheme is made up from a set of standards. Landowners will be paid for doing the actions within the standards they choose.
- Local Nature Recovery: Farmers and landowners will be paid for actions that support local nature recovery and meet local environmental priorities. This helps to encourage collaboration between farmers to work together to improve their local environment.
- Landscape Recovery: This will support landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term projects. For example, restoring wilder landscapes, large-scale tree planting and peatland and salt marsh restoration.
These schemes are intended to support the rural economy while achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and the UK Government’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Initially, the schemes will be piloted prior to wider roll-out:
- The SFI Pilot will be launched in October 2021, with a wider roll-out in 2022. The full version will launch in 2024
- Local Nature Recovery will pilot in 2022 and launch in 2024
- Landscape Recovery will have 10 pilot projects in 2022 and launch in 2024
Please visit Defra’s website for an overview of the schemes.
Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group - South West
The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG South West) is a registered charity. It represents South Somerset’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation. It helps to ensure farm businesses are profitable.
FWAG are leading on a number of environmental initiatives in the region:
Hills to Levels
The ‘Hills to Levels’ project is a holistic catchment management approach based across Somerset. It aims to ‘slow the flow’ to reduce flood risk, reduce erosion, improve water quality, deliver wider environmental benefits and increase resilience on the floodplain. The idea is that a lot of small-scale interventions will have an effect at the large catchment scale with the motto that ‘every field, every farm, every stream has its part to play in flooding and water quality’.
The scheme provides advice and capital grants for Natural Flood Management (NFM) techniques, which have the potential to provide several of the following benefits:
1. Improve infiltration into soils to reduce the generation of run-off and erosion and to increase soil water storage:
- Soil husbandry advice
- Cross-slope hedges
- Woodland planting
- Woody flow spreaders
2. Attenuate, slow and filter run-off:
- In-field bunds
- Cross drains
- Filter barriers
- Silt traps
3. Temporarily store run-off in-field:
- Leaky run-off ponds
- Leaky outlets
- In-ditch features
4. Slow the flow in streams or rivers, create habitat and stabilise banks:
- Leaky woody dams
- In-stream habitat improvement and bank stabilisation
5. Restore the connections between watercourses and their floodplain, and temporarily store high flows on the floodplain.
FWAG South West has produced a set of 14 Information Sheets covering these Natural Flood Management techniques.
If planning a project, the detailed requirements for each scheme are site-specific. Contact FWAG for further advice.
Farm Plastic Recycling Scheme
Since 2004, FWAG has been running their annual ‘Farm Plastic Recycling Scheme’. The aim of the scheme is to provide farmers with a responsible, environmentally sound way to recycle plastic, preventing it from going to landfill. The scheme is simple and straightforward with no membership fees. Farmers only pay for the plastic they bring.
How it works
Farmers deliver their plastics on a specific day, to one of a number of sites within Somerset, Devon or Dorset. The types of plastic collected include:
- Silage wrap
- Clamp sheet
- Fertiliser outer bags and dumpy bags
- Fertiliser inner bags and 25kg feed bags
- Chemical containers and mineral buckets
- Tree guards
The plastic is taken away, washed and melted down into pellets. The pellets are then recast into an array of products for agricultural use.
When the scheme takes place
The Farm Plastic Recycling Scheme takes place throughout April and May each year. If you are interested in participating in the scheme, contact FWAG SW to be added to the mailing list.