Read the September 2020 ELM tests and trials report

Published 21 January 2021

Dairy Climate change and renewables Environment Net zero
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The latest Defra report on the learnings from the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) test and trails is now available online to read.

Defra produces the report every quarter. These tests look at specific design questions and issues such as: how much advice is required or the structure of payments in ELMs. The test and trial (T&T) findings then get used to inform the design of ELMs which is due to launch for all farmers in 2024.

The latest report covers the period June to September 2020.

The key findings were:

  • The T&Ts have generated a range of templates and methods to inform the structure and format of Land Management Plans (LMP). These range from structured questionnaire-style plans and written reports, to scorecards and digital platforms. All these templates include as a minimum an environmental baseline and a potential public goods delivery assessment.
  • T&T state that there is role for advice throughout all components of ELM. However, the amount and type of advice required will vary between individual farmers, sectors, and geographies.
  • Defra has received further evidence demonstrating that farmers feel there is value in their involvement in discussions and decisions on Spatial Prioritisation. There is an emerging consensus that the priority setting should be done through a combination of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches. Defra are exploring 6 different models and approaches to governance to determine how this could work in the future scheme.
  • On collaboration for delivering environmental outcomes the consensus remains that most land manager groups will require some form of facilitation, regardless of size, sector, and focus. However, recent findings show that many farmers favour a ‘bottom-up’ approach in which they maintain a sense of ownership over group work, with facilitators playing a supporting role only.
  • On the payments theme T&Ts suggest that the income forgone plus costs (IF+C) approach does not provide a strong enough incentive for farmers to join a scheme.
  • There is clear interest from the private sector in blending finance to pay for environmental outcomes under landscape recovery agreements. However, one trial working with a water company has identified that conflicting regulatory requirements and baselines are a barrier to blending finance.

    The full Defra report can be found here.

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