As a landowner or manager with an ECS agreement, know how to plant and manage energy crops and how to get paid or request changes to your agreement.
The aim of the Energy Crops Scheme (ECS) is to encourage farmers and landowners to grow energy crops as a sustainable substitute for fossil fuels.
ECS closed for new applications on 31 August 2013. All existing agreements signed before 31 December 2013 will continue until their agreed end date.
Terms and conditions of your agreement
Approved crops under the scheme are short rotation coppice (including willow, poplar, hazel, silver birch, sycamore, sweet chestnut and lime) and miscanthus.
Crops must be used for heat, combined heat and power (CHP) or power generation. You are allowed to use your own generated energy.
For full terms see 1.5 The main rules of the ECS Handbook.
How to combine ECS with other environmental schemes
Energy crops plantings can be combined with Environmental Stewardship options to increase the positive contribution of the crop to the environment. See 3.6 Other schemes in the ECS Handbook.
Plant crops for maximum local yield
The impacts of energy crops can vary at a local level. The Natural England archive page shows where energy crops have had most impact.
How to make a claim and get paid
Making a claim
You will automatically receive a claim form from Natural England.
Any second year costs necessary to help establish your crop can be claimed for, but only up to and including 2015. No second year costs can be claimed on crops planted in 2015.
See 5.5 When do I claim the grant? in the ECS Handbook.
Payments are paid direct to your bank account and you will receive a note from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) advising you that payment has been made.
If you do not already receive grant and subsidy payments from Natural England, contact the RPA for a form to be sent to you:
- Telephone 0845 6037777
- Email CSC@rpa.gsi.gov.uk
Use an agent to manage your agreement
If you want to appoint an agent to manage your ECS agreement you need to fill out the agent authorisation form and send to Natural England. The form becomes a legally binding contract between the agreement holder and the agent.
If you want to stop using an agent you need to contact Natural England.
Change your agreement
There are certain situations where you can change your agreement without breaking your terms and conditions. See 5.8 Can I change my agreement? in the ECS Handbook.
Breach of an agreement
Natural England recognises that there may be circumstances where you have no control over a breach of your agreement terms. This is known as ‘force majeure’ and covers several instances. See 6.2 What is force majeure? in the ECS Handbook.
However, you could be in breach of your agreement for example if you:
- claim for an area of planting that is greater than that agreed or that is not eligible for planting
- transfer land ownership without contacting Natural England
- refuse a site inspection
See 6.0 Non-compliance in the ECS Handbook.
Consequences of a breach
There is a system of penalties for non-compliance with the terms of your agreement which is based on the requirements of EC Commission Regulation No. 1975/2006, Article 16. Power to withhold payments, recover part or all of payments already made impose a penalty, and to terminate the agreement are included.
See 6.3 What are the penalties for non-compliance? in the ECS Handbook.
You can appeal against a decision by contacting the Natural England customer services team through our complaints procedure.
ECS contact details