Some 2,000 hill farmers have already signed up to the new uplands subsidies scheme which only came into effect at he beginning of July, 500 of them in Yorkshire. Each will receive grants averaging £26,800 over the next five years.
In Yorkshire, this has brought 66,000 hectares of land into the scheme, much of that covering areas of important scenery in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks, plus scenic areas of the Pennines in the west and south of the county.
The new system is designed to reward farmers for their work in maintaining the landscape, including the maintenance of classic man-made features like barns and drystone walls.
The Uplands Entry Level Stewardship Scheme (UELS) replaces the former Hill Farm Allowance and its introduction has been met with controversy in some quarters, notably from tenant farmers.
They claim that in some cases, the subsidy is being claimed by the landlords rather than the farmers who actually work the land. They also say that the introduction of the scheme was badly publicized in advance, so that many members did not know when to apply.
However, Peter Welsh, Natural England’s area manager said: “The initial level of applications for Uplands ELS is highly encouraging and we look forward to continuing to work closely with hill farmers to make sure they receive they all the support we can offer.”
There is a wide range of advice available to farmers seeking to join the new scheme. This includes a new ‘Step by Step Guide to Uplands ELS’ available from Natural England’s website at www.naturalengland.org.uk/uplandsels
For further information or to find out how to apply, call 0300 060 0011. On farm visits in Yorkshire can be arranged by calling 0300 060 1695