ARCHIVE: Entry Level Stewardship Handbook 2005 (PB10355)

1.3    How do I apply?

1.3.1    How do I submit my application?

Once the land you wish to enter into the scheme is on the RLR (see section 1.2.1) you can apply for ELS via the internet or by post. Applying for ELS via the internet using the ELS Online service has many advantages:

  • It will be easier to prepare neat, accurate application maps.

  • It will be easier to make alterations to your application before it is submitted.

  • The ELS software automatically carries out the calculations you need to convert your mapping measurements to ELS points.

  • The automatic calculations carried out by the ELS software will help to ensure that your ELS application is free from errors.

Section 1.3.2 below provides a summary of the internet application process.

If you wish to apply by post and have not received a pre-filled application form and maps, you must follow the instructions provided at the front of this handbook. Once you have received your pre-filled application form and maps, section 2 of this handbook provides detailed instructions for completing your postal application.

1.3.2    How do I apply via the internet?

Before you apply via the internet you will need to:

  1. Check that all the land you wish to enter into the scheme is on the RLR. See section 1.2.1 for guidance about the RLR, and sections 1.2 and 4 to check the eligibility of you and your land.

  2. Make sure you have a ‘vendor number’. See section 1.2.2 for guidance about vendor numbers.

Then take the following steps to apply online:

Contact your RDS office by phone or email (see appendix 6) to register your interest in the ELS Online service. Within a few days you should receive a Personal Identification Number (PIN); you will need this PIN to access an electronic version of your RLR field data
Download the ELS software you will need in order to complete your application and enrol to use the ELS Online service by using your PIN at
Use your ELS software to download electronic copies of your pre-filled application form and application maps, including digital versions of your FER and Options map/s
Use your ELS software to complete your application on your downloaded application form and FER and Options map/s (your computer does not need to be on-line to do this)
Submit your application by e-mail to your RDS office while your computer is on-line. You will receive an acknowledgement that your application has been received. RDS e-mail addresses are provided at appendix 6 of this handbook.


To find out more about ELS Online and check the minimum specification of computer needed to complete an ELS Online application go to

1.3.3    When should I send in my application and when will my agreement start?

You should send in your application once you have completed your application form and marked up your maps. You can apply at any time, but if you want to choose a particular agreement start date you will have to submit your application by the deadline for that date.

For 2005, agreement start dates, and corresponding application deadlines, are available from your RDS office and on the internet at RDS contact details are provided at appendix 6 of this handbook.

Section 2.3.6 of this handbook provides a table showing agreement start dates, and corresponding application deadlines, for 2006 and following years.

1.3.4    How is my points target calculated?

Your points target will be calculated for you and included in your pre-filled application form. The calculation will be made as follows:

You will need to achieve 30 points per hectare for all your eligible land with the following exception:

If you have any land in the Less Favoured Area (LFA) in parcels of 15 ha or more, you will need to achieve 8 points per hectare on that land.

1.3.5    How should I choose which options to put in my application?

Section 3 of this handbook contains the complete list of ELS options. It describes the management to be carried out for each option and the standards that must be met. If you include any option in your application, you are agreeing to carry out the management requirements for that option. You should read the guidelines for each option carefully to help you choose which ones to include in your application.

Supplied with your application maps will be a guidance note called ‘ELS: making the most of your options’. This note gives a short description of your local area, identifying characteristic landscape, wildlife and historic features, and identifies which options will deliver benefits that are particularly relevant to your land. This description may help you to choose which options to include in your application. In addition, you will be provided with an Environmental Information Map which may show features of particular historic, landscape or wildlife interest. You may find this map helpful when deciding which options to choose and where to locate them.

1.3.6    Can I have more than one option on the same area of land?

In a few instances you can have up to two land management options on the same area of land at the same time, but you cannot combine more than two options. Section 3.3 of this handbook contains a table showing permitted combinations of options. This rule does not apply to ELS management plan options; they may be applied to all field parcels included in your application, provided they meet the eligibility criteria for the management plan concerned - see pages 83 to 85 of this handbook.

1.3.7    Should I exceed my points target?

The points target for your farm, and the associated payment rate, is fixed. This means that there is not a higher payment for delivery of additional options over and above your required target.

If you are very confident that the measurements (length, area, etc) of your options are accurate, there is no need to deliver more than your points target. However, if you want to make sure that there is some margin for error, you may wish to consider delivering options slightly in excess of your target, in case, on inspection, any issues arise over the eligibility of your options or your compliance with the option prescription. It is essential that you do not fall below your target points or you will be in breach of your agreement (see appendix 5 on penalties). However, you will not be paid any extra if you exceed your points target.

If you feel that you would like to deliver a higher level of commitment than that required by Entry Level Stewardship, you may wish to consider applying for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). Under HLS there is a wider range of options and payment rates with more detailed management requirements. However, there is no guarantee that an HLS application will be successful, because each one is subjected to a technical assessment of its benefit to the environment. If you want to apply for HLS you will need a separate application pack. These packs are available from your RDS office.

1.3.8    Will help be provided to understand the scheme and complete my application?

We hope that enough information is provided in this handbook to enable you to complete your application. RDS, and other organisations, will also be holding Environmental Stewardship (ES) meetings and other events to explain the scheme and to provide advice on applying. In addition, you will be able to contact advisers at your RDS office who will be able to help with general enquiries. If you wish to attend an ES meeting you should contact your RDS office for the location of venues and availability of places. RDS contact details are provided in appendix 6 of this handbook.

1.3.9    Can an agent act on my behalf?

The application process has been designed to be as simple as possible. It has been designed so that most applicants should feel confident enough to complete and submit the application themselves. However, if you prefer you can authorise an agent to submit an application on your behalf. You can also authorise an agent to act on your behalf on all matters relating to the maintenance of your agreement. There is also a facility to enable your payments to be made to an agent.

To authorise an agent to act on your behalf in relation to any part of your agreement, you will need to complete and sign the relevant sections of the agent authorisation form (ERDP/AUTH1) which must be sent with your application. If you did not request an agent authorisation form with this handbook you can obtain one from your RDS office or download one from the Defra website at RDS contact details are provided in appendix 6 of this handbook.

Please note that any payment you make to an agent to help you with your application will not be reimbursed by Defra.

1.3.10    What should I do if I have already sown my crops?

If you have a crop in place at the start of your agreement, and the crop would need to be destroyed to establish your option (e.g. pollen and nectar mixture, buffer strips), you may keep the crop in place until harvest. However, you must ensure that the land concerned does not receive any fertiliser, spray or other inputs between the agreement start date and harvest. The scheme options should then be established as soon as possible after harvest, and this must be within 12 months of your agreement start date. For all other options, you must comply with the management requirements from the start date of your agreement.

1.3.11    What happens next?

Once your application has been received by RDS, it will be checked to see if you meet the eligibility requirements, that all the necessary details have been entered on your application form and that all your maps have been completed. If it passes these simple checks RDS will notify you that you have been accepted into the scheme, and provide you with an agreement reference number that you should quote in future correspondence.

1.3.12    When and how will I be paid?

If you are accepted into ELS, you will receive a payment every six months of your agreement. Each six monthly payment will be half of your annual payment and each of these payments will be made automatically, apart from the final payment. Towards the end of the final year you will be sent a form to claim for the remaining payment. When making this final claim, you will need to sign a declaration to confirm that you have complied with the terms of your agreement throughout the five years.

1.3.13    The Environmental Impact Assessment (Uncultivated Land and Semi-natural Areas) (England) Regulations 2001

These regulations seek to protect environmentally important land from agricultural intensification. Land managers are required to seek approval from Defra before carrying out any work that would intensify the agricultural use of uncultivated land or semi-natural areas, such as cultivation or increasing the amount of fertiliser added annually.

It is unlikely that ELS options will alter the status of land in relation to these regulations, but you should consider this before you apply. Enquiries about the regulations should be addressed to the EIA helpline on 0800 028 2140.

© Defra (Mandy Heathcote)

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