DEFRA HAS been given permission to introduce its Environmental Stewardship schemes in England.

The EU has agreed that the government can introduce an Entry Level Stewardship scheme and a Higher Level Stewardship scheme as planned in the spring.

The ELS will enable farmers to earn up to £30/ha (£12/acre) if they meet basic environmental standards.

Farmers who want to deliver higher levels of environmental management and get higher payment rates will be able to apply for HLS.

Junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley said getting approval for the schemes was excellent news for farmers, the environment and the general public.

“It is certain to have a hugely beneficial effect on improving habitats for bird and wildlife species, increasing their numbers and repairing populations damaged by intensive farming activities.

“It will also make a major and visible impact on rural landscapes; restoring wetlands, heather moorland and replacing lost hedgerows.”