Farmers who are struggling to meet the demands of agri-environment schemes this winter due to extreme weather can still apply for derogations.

Natural England is temporarily lifting some land management requirements that normally apply to environmental stewardship (ES) to offer farmers more flexibility to cope with the impact of persistent wet weather and snow.

Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s director for land management (South), 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.”

Currently, flooding remains a particular problem with wet ground conditions, forcing some arable farmers to delay specific stewardship options until spring. In such cases, farmers should contact Natural England to seek advice on derogations, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Livestock farmers whose agreements include restrictions on carrying out supplementary feeding in the event of heavy snowfall would be able to provide stock with additional feed. Under these circumstances, it would not be necessary to contact Natural England for prior consent.

Farmers and land managers who need further advice about their environmental stewardship agreements or would like to apply for a derogation should contact their local Natural England adviser or call Natural England on 0300 060 0011.

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