Limited rollout of Local Nature Recovery Scheme to begin in 2023

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Defra have released further information about the Local Nature Recovery (LNR) scheme. LNR, along with the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Landscape Recovery (LR), are part of the Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) which are available for farmers in England to take part in as Direct Payments are removed.

When can I get involved?

An early version of LNR will be available for a limited number of farmers and land managers from 2023. Defra expect the wider rollout of the scheme to be ready by the end of 2024.

What does it involve?

A range of options are available, including:

  • Managing feeding, shelter and breeding areas for wildlife on arable farms
  • Managing, restoring and creating grassland habitats
  • Managing and creating trees and woodlands
  • Restoring rivers, floodplains and streams

A full list is available on the Defra website.

As with the SFI, farmers will have the option to commit only some of their farm/land in the scheme and it will be possible to have both SFI and LNR standards on a farm as long as farmers are not being paid twice for the same action.

There will be flexibility in terms of the application window and making changes mid-agreement.

From 2025, the England Woodland Creation Offer will become part of LNR.

Will I need to collaborate with others?

Farmers may work individually, but Defra want to encourage people to work collaboratively in local areas in order to achieve bigger outcomes, for example, farmers with land next to rivers working together to achieve the maximum environmental benefit.

What are the payment rates?

Payment rates for the various options have not yet been published, but there are plans to have a mixture of one-off and ongoing payments. An updated calculation of income foregone plus costs will provide the basis for payment rates. More information on this is expected later this year.

The options which are more collaborative and likely to have a larger environmentally beneficial impact on the local area are likely to have higher payment rates than those which are limited to individual farms.

How does this fit in with Countryside Stewardship?

Defra have indicated that LNR will build on Countryside Stewardship (CS) and information will be released in due course on how farmers in CS and Higher Level Stewardship can move into LNR.

CS applications for agreements starting in 2024 will open in February 2023 and will be the last as CS will transition into the new schemes.

Is it right for me?

Our analysis on the SFI has shown that, in isolation, the new schemes are not designed to replace Direct Payments. Many farmers will need to look at a combination of different schemes as well as improving the efficiency of their business to stay afloat and thrive during and after the Transition Period. As with the SFI, it’s worth weighing up the potential costs against the payments. Our report, Assessing the impact of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, is designed to help farmers think about the costs of the scheme and weigh up their options. We are also looking at the LR scheme in more depth to inform levy payers and expect to publish this work in early 2023. While there is only limited information available at present regarding LNR, it is worth exploring if and how some of the options outlined could work for you and your farm.

For some farmers, it will make more sense to join these schemes than for others – so make sure you weigh up the pros and cons.