ARCHIVE: Entry Level Stewardship Handbook 2005 (PB10355)

Appendix 4 - Standards of Good Farming Practice

As referred to at section 5.1, you must agree to abide by Standards of Good Farming Practice across the whole of your farm, which includes any of your land which is not part of your ELS agreement. This means that:

  1. You must comply with the appropriate requirements of:
    1. The Forestry Act 1967,
    2. the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the Ancient Monuments (Class Consents) Order 1994,
    3. the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981,
    4. Part III of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and the Plant Protection Products Regulations 1995,
    5. the Heather and Grass etc (Burning) Regulations 1986,
    6. the Crops Residues (Burning) Regulations 1993,
    7. the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations 1991 (as amended 1997),
    8. the Clean Air Act 1993,
    9. the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994,
    10. the Hedgerow Regulations 1997,
    11. the Groundwater Regulations 1998, and
    12. the Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (England and Wales) Regulations 1998.

A brief explanation of what is required by this legislation is set out on page 107.

  1. You must tell us if you are convicted of an offence under any of this legislation, or are the subject of a statutory enforcement notice. Where such conviction, or the activities to which the statutory enforcement notice relates, adversely affect compliance with your ELS agreement, you may be breaking this agreement and we can take action as at section 7.2 above and appendix 5;
  2. You must retain copies of the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Soil, Water and Air, and any amendments, for the duration of your agreement. The Codes are published by Defra (PB 0617 Soil, PB 0587 Water and PB 0618 Air).

You must also comply with the following verifiable standards across the whole of your farm:

  1. overgrazing: you must avoid overgrazing, which means grazing your land so as to adversely affect the growth, quality or species composition of vegetation (other than vegetation normally grazed to destruction) on that land to a significant degree. Cases of suspected overgrazing will be investigated and failure to follow subsequent professional advice would be a breach of your agreement.
  2. undergrazing: stock should be distributed across your farm to ensure that under-utilisation is avoided: this is defined as where annual growth is not being fully utilised, or where scrub or coarse vegetation is becoming evident, and this is detrimental to the environmental interests of the site. Cases of suspected undergrazing will be investigated and failure to follow subsequent professional advice would be a breach of your agreement.
  3. supplementary feeding: where supplementary feeding is permitted by your agreement, the feed must be provided in such a way that the vegetation is not excessively trampled or poached by animals or rutted by vehicles used to transport feed.
  4. field boundaries: you must not remove or destroy any hedges or stone walls on your farm except by special derogation and subject to any necessary consent under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. Enforcement will be through visual assessment of any recent damage during field checks.
  5. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs): if you have an SSSI on your farm, you are required to give written notice to English Nature if you want to undertake any 'operations likely to damage the special interest' of your SSSI (these are listed on your SSSI notification papers). These operations can only proceed once you have received written consent from English Nature.
  6. silage and slurry stores: if you construct a new silage or slurry store you must notify the Environment Agency before starting to use it. Defra will check to see if this notification has taken place.
  7. sheep dip: if you propose to dispose of sheep dip on your farm you must obtain prior authorisation from the Environment Agency. Checks will be made to see that either an authorisation has been obtained or that there is a reason why no authorisation is needed in that individual case.
  8. hedgerows: you must not trim hedgerows on your farm between 1 March and 31 July. Enforcement will be through visual evidence of recent damage during any checks carried out in these months.
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