Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
ELS10_2_3

2.3    How do I complete my application?

2.3.1    Applying by post

To mark up your FER and Options Maps, you will need a number of different coloured pencils. Please keep to the colours shown on the colour keys for individual maps.

If any of your details change between receiving the pre-filled application form and being ready to apply, the form will be out of date. If this is the case, do not amend the application form; contact your Natural England office for an updated form before applying.

Detailed instructions and guidance on how to complete the application form and how to prepare the maps are provided below. Table 3 provides a step-by-step summary of the application process.

2.3.2    Step-by-step summary of how to apply by post

Please read Section 1 of this handbook to make sure that you and your land are eligible before you start to complete your application. If you are applying for Uplands ELS, you should also read Section U of this handbook. This step-by-step guide covers both ELS and Uplands ELS. In this Section text specific to Uplands ELS is shown in purple font.

Table 3 Step-by-step summary of how to apply by post

Step 1 Check that your maps and the pre-filled details on your application form are correct. Check that your RLR field details on your Field Data Sheet at Annex 2 of your application form are correct and that all the land is eligible. If you delete any fields you must also check and amend your ELS points target.
Step 2 Complete your Farm Environment Record (FER) by marking the features on your land on your FER Map.
Step 3 Identify and record on your FER Map any fields at risk from soil erosion or run-off.
Step 4 Choose which options to include on your ELS-eligible land, mark your ELS option choices on the Options Map, and add the options to Annex 1 or 2 of the application form.
Step 5 Check that you have met or exceeded your points target on your ELS-eligible land.
Step 6 Choose your preferred agreement start date and tick the relevant box in Section 2 of your application form. Make sure you have checked the box to confirm which scheme you are applying to join.
Step 7 Make sure you have read and understood all the terms and conditions contained in this handbook before reading and signing the declaration at Section 4 of the application form. Check that you have completed all sections of the application form and included any supplementary forms or photographs if required with your application.
Step 8 Submit your application to your Natural England office in the envelope provided.
2.3.3    How to fill in your application form and mark up your maps

Step 1: Check your pre-filled details and maps
Please note that if your application is approved, it will form part of your legal agreement with Natural England. Therefore, do not use correcting fluid. If you have to make any alterations to your application form, they must be made in block capitals using black ink and must be initialled by you. It may be helpful to make a rough copy of your application and transfer this onto your application form when you are sure it is correct.

Please check the following pre-filled details in Section 1 and Annex 2 of your application form:

  • Section 1 - Applicant’s details. Your application form should have been pre-filled with your contact details, vendor number and legal trading status. Please check that these details are correct and complete any missing information. Please also ensure you confirm your preferred method of communication and main contact details if they differ from those pre-recorded on the form.
  • Annex 2 - Field Data Sheet. It is your responsibility to ensure that all the land listed at Annex 2 (the Field Data Sheet) and identified on your maps is fully eligible for the scheme by carefully studying the rules on eligibility in Section 1 of this handbook.

If you find that some of your eligible land parcels have not been included in the Field Data Sheet, you must contact your Natural England office for a new application form and maps. You must not add any field parcels to your pre-filled details on the Field Data Sheet.

If you need to delete any of your field details, for example, if a CSS or ESA option covers the whole field and therefore is not eligible for ELS, please follow these instructions:

  • Using the Field Data Sheet(s) at Annex 2 of your application form, delete each ineligible parcel number and associated gross parcel area from the RLR field size column.
  • Amend the corresponding total area of land in Box 1 or Box 2 as appropriate at the base of the RLR field size column. For Uplands ELS applications, Box 1a, 1b, 2a or 2b should be amended.
  • At Table A, Section 3 of your application form, make the corresponding amendments to the total land area(s). For applications which include SDA land, this will be Part 1 of Table A if you are applying for ELS without Uplands, or Part 2 of Table A if you are applying for Uplands ELS.
  • If you have deleted any fields from your application you should now check and amend your points target.

Alternatively you may find it easier to contact Natural England and ask for a replacement application form and map(s) covering the correct field parcels.

When you have checked that your land is eligible and you are sure that the pre-filled land parcel details listed at Annex 2 of your application form are correct, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Complete your Farm Environment Record (FER)

You will need:

  • your FER Map(s)
  • the example FER Map (included in this handbook), which will help to show you how to mark your map
  • Section 3 and Annex 1 of your application form.

As a condition of the scheme, you must agree to identify, map and retain the features listed and described on the FER Map key that are present on your land. These are your 'FER features'. Please complete your FER by marking your FER features on your FER Map(s). Walking your farm and marking the features on a copy of your FER Map as you go may help to make sure that you do not miss any.

Use the colours on the map key for marking each feature. Confirm that you have a feature on your land by marking the corresponding blank symbol on the right side of the map key with the coloured pencil you have used to mark that feature on the map. The completed map(s) must be submitted as part of your application. If you are applying for Uplands ELS you will need to map additional features (marked with an asterisk on the map key) on your land below the Moorland Line only, that is, your non-moorland parcels. Please note that for scrub, you are only required to map scrub that is covered by the UX2 requirement.

Your Environmental Information Map may also indicate features that require marking on your FER Map(s).

Older versions of the map key will indicate that all boundary trees should be counted and their number marked, within a green circle, by each field boundary. This requirement has been relaxed so that now only boundaries with, on average, 1 or more eligible trees per 100 m need to be marked as 'boundaries with trees'. For example, a hedgerow of 400 m would need to have at least four eligible trees along its length. Eligible trees are those that are native species, standing within 1 m of a hedgerow and over 30 cm diameter at breast height. These boundaries are simply marked with a green cross over the boundary line. This is illustrated on the example FER map in this handbook. (In-field trees still need to be counted and marked as shown on the key.)

You will receive 3 points per ha of land for completing your FER and retaining all your FER features for the lifetime of your agreement. Take time to complete it as clearly and accurately as you can. As long as the markings you make are clear and understandable, Natural England will be able to accept your map(s).

Record your points score for the FER as follows:

  • Refer to your total eligible land area in hectares recorded at Table A in Section 3 of the application form or, where necessary, calculate your total eligible land area by adding the areas recorded in the 'Area (ha)' column of Table A. For applications which include SDA land, this will be Part 1 of Table A if you are applying for ELS without Uplands, or Part 2 of Table A if you are applying for Uplands ELS.
  • Multiply your total ELS-eligible land area by three to give your points score for your FER on your ELS-eligible land. Record your points score in the Compulsory Farm Environment Record row of the table at Annex 1 of the application form.

Step 3: Identify fields where soil erosion and run-off occur, or may do so in the future

You will need:

  • your FER Map
  • Annex 2 of your application form (your Field Data Sheet)
  • question 11 of your application form.

As part of your FER, you must consider whether any of your land is at risk from soil erosion or run-off. Controlling the problem could protect the environment and improve the productivity of your land. Please read Section 3J (Options to protect soil and water) of this handbook for further information on soil erosion.

First identify where soil erosion and run-off occur. Consider each of your fields and mark them in dark brown hatching on your FER Map, and put a tick in the column titled 'Soil erosion/run off risk' of Annex 2, if any of the following apply (even if this happens occasionally or only when a certain crop is grown in that field or when stock have poached the soil):

  • if rills or gullies develop in wet weather, including along tramlines;
  • if muddy water from the field enters a ditch, stream or river, or sediment is deposited on a road or on neighbouring properties; or
  • if wind erosion of sandy or peaty soil occurs from fine, dry seedbeds.

Then identify where soil erosion and run-off may occur in the future. Mark your FER Map in the same way (dark brown hatching), and tick the column titled 'Soil erosion/run off risk' of Annex 2, if all of the following apply, and you intend to change the management of the land (particularly if you want to cultivate grassland or increase the intensity of cropping or grazing):

  • the soil is sandy or silty;
  • there are slopes in all or part of the field that may cause run-off and erosion; and
  • run-off will reach ditches, streams, rivers, roads, or neighbouring properties down-slope of the field.

If you have identified that soil erosion and run-off occur, or are likely to occur, consider choosing management options to reduce run-off and soil erosion. See Section 3J (Options to protect soil and water) of this handbook.

Complete Question 11 on your application form.

Step 4: Choose which options to include on your ELS-eligible land

You will need:

  • Annexes 1 and 2 and Section 3 of your application form
  • your Options Map
  • the example Options Map (included in this handbook), which will help to show you how to mark your map.

You must include sufficient options to meet your points target. Section 1.1.4 (and U1.1.4) explain how your points target is calculated. Your points target will be shown in Table A on your application form.

Read Section 3 of this handbook to find out which ELS options can be located on your ELS-eligible land. You will see that there is a wide range of options designed for a variety of farming systems. Please read through all of the ELS options and decide which ones you would like to include in your application. Refer to your Environmental Information Map and FER to ensure that your options choices will help to protect and manage the environmental features on your land. For Uplands ELS applications only, compulsory requirements UX2 (Upland grassland and arable requirements) and UX3 (Moorland requirements) must be included where the respective land type forms part of your application.

For each option you wish to include on your ELS-eligible land you must:

  • Decide where the option is to be located on the land (you may decide you want to have the option in more than one location).
  • Mark every instance of the option with a coloured pencil on your Options Map(s), using the appropriate colour for that option as specified on the Options Map key. Do not mark rotational options on your Options Map - these options are recorded at Annex 1 of your application form.
  • Write the appropriate option code, using a fine black pen, on or against the option in each place that you have marked it on your Options Map(s).

In addition, if you have any CSS, ESA or ECS non-rotational options on a part-field basis, you must mark their location on your Options Map(s). Please note that if a CSS or ESA option covers a whole field, the field is not eligible for ELS. See Section 1.3.4 for details. If you have any CSS or ESA options on a part field that field is not eligible for Uplands ELS. See Section U for details.

Please take care to measure option lengths or areas then calculate the points values accurately, as errors may lead to the reduction of payments and to penalties being imposed.

Having marked your Options Map(s), you will now need to record your choices and calculate the points you have accumulated on your ELS-eligible land, using Annexes 1 and 2 of your application form:

  • Use Annex 1 for ELS boundary, rotational and traditional farm building options. Instructions and guidance on how to complete Annex 1 are provided in Figure 1.
  • Use Annex 2 (the Field Data Sheet) for ELS non-rotational options within fields (eg buffer strips). Instructions and guidance on how to complete Annex 2 are provided in Figure 2.

Step 5: Check that you have met your points target on your ELS-eligible land

You will need:

  • Annexes 1 and 2 and Section 3 of the application form.

Once you have chosen your ELS options, calculate the total ELS points that you have accumulated, as follows:

  • Transfer your total ELS points from Annex 1 and Annex 2 (including any continuation sheets) to the corresponding boxes in Table B, Section 3 of the application form.
  • Add these two figures to determine your total ELS points and record this in Table B. This figure must meet or exceed your Total ELS Points Target (Table A) to qualify for entry to the scheme.

Remember that you are responsible for ensuring that all the options listed at Annex 1 and Annex 2 of your application form are delivered. This information forms the basis of your agreement with Natural England.

Step 6: Choose your agreement start date

You will need:

  • Section 2 of the application form.

Your farming system and choice of options may influence the time of year when you would like your agreement to start. ELS has monthly start dates with agreements commencing on the first date of each month. At Section 2 of your application form, you can select your preferred agreement start date or simply opt for the next one available. You should note that your choice of start date will affect the timing of your payments (see Section 1.1.6 How and when will I get paid?).

Step 7: Declarations and undertakings

You will need:

  • Sections 2 and 4 of the application form.

Please read these carefully, and complete and sign the declaration at Section 4. Tick the relevant box to confirm whether you are applying for ELS or Uplands ELS, ensuring you tick only one box. If you need to make a countersigned application (see Section 1.2 of this handbook), you will need to get the relevant person to complete Section 2 of the application form and sign the declaration in that section.

Step 8: Submit your application

Natural England contact details are provided in Appendix 1 of this handbook.

Please return the following to your Natural England office in the envelope provided with your application pack:

  • Your completed and signed application form.
  • Annexes 1 and 2 of your application form.
  • Your FER Map marked with your FER features.
  • Your Options Map marked with the options you have chosen.

Where appropriate you should also include:

  • A Common Land Supplementary Application Form (NE-CLA3) - see Section 1.2.6.
  • An Agent Authorisation form (NE-auth) - see Section 1.1.10.
  • Supplementary Land Ownership and control Form(s) (NE-LOC) - see Section 1.2.2.
  • Any photographs you are required to submit (Uplands ELS options UB14, UB15, UB16 and UB17, UD12 and UD13).

It is recommended that you obtain proof of postage for these and any other documents you send to Natural England. You are advised to retain a copy of your completed application form and your FER and Options Maps.

Figure 1 How to complete Annex 1
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Figure 2 How to complete Annex 2 - your ELS Field Data Sheet
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Entry Level Stewardship Farm Environment Record

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Entry Level Stewardship Options Map
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