The implementation of the Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardships schemes has been slammed by the chairman of the Tenant Farmers’ Association.

The schemes were launched by DEFRA with a blaze of publicity in March 2005, but ongoing mapping problems have made it difficult for many farmers to apply.

Speaking at the organisation’s annual general meeting on Tuesday (21 February), Reg Haydon suggested that the process had “been nothing short of abysmal”.

This was, he claimed, largely due to the regionalisation of the application process and scheme management.

“The TFA contends that regional offices have neither the expertise nor the resource to implement what should be a national policy and that we are experiencing a lack of willingness to make decisions at local level.”