10 May 2002



England and Wales

THIS was one of the first agri-environment schemes to be introduced (in 1987), and considered the flagship of the programme, although the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is destined to take over this role. Grants are limited to land within designated environmentally sensitive areas.

Annual payments are made to farmers and land managers to alter their practices to conserve and enhance the landscape and the historic and wildlife value of the land.

The scheme is voluntary and is not competitive. Farmers entering 10 year agreements have an opportunity to terminate after five.

Designated ESAs

There are 28 Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in England and Wales, with no plans for any new ones.

England – Norfolk Broads; Somerset Levels and Moors; Pennine Dales; West Penwith (Cornwall); South Downs; North Peak; Shropshire Borders (Clun); Suffolk River Valleys; Test Valley; Avon Valley; Exmoor; Lake District; South Wessex Downs; South West Peak; Cotswold Hills; Dartmoor; Blackdown Hills; Essex Coast; Shropshire Hills; Upper Thames Tributaries; Breckland; North Kent Marshes

Wales – Cambrian Mountains; Lleyn Peninsular; Radnor; Ynys Mon; Preseli; Clwydian Range.

Payment rates

Each ESA has tiers of entry. The higher the tier of entry the greater the annual payment, but more restrictions are placed on the type of farming that can be carried out.

Payments rates and the management conditions that have to be followed vary depending on the objectives of the particular ESA. Payments are based on income foregone and range from £8/ha for arable and leys in the South Wessex Downs ESA, to £500/ha for arable grassland margins in the Broads ESA. An annual payment of £170/km is available for public access across land covered by an ESA agreement. Grants of 30-80% of the cost of capital works that support the land management objectives of the ESA are also available.


England: DEFRA Rural Development Service

(see last page for contact details).

Wales: NAWAD Divisional offices (see last page for contact details).

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