Agreement holders’ information: Environmental Stewardship

Guidance on how to meet the requirements for an Environmental Stewardship agreement.

Hot and dry weather conditions

See the guidance for farmers finding it difficult to meet scheme requirements.

Environmental Stewardship (ES) is a land management scheme. It’s closed to new applicants. Natural England manages existing agreements until they reach their agreed end date.

There are 3 levels to the scheme:

  • Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) – includes Uplands ELS: simple and effective land management agreements with priority options
  • Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) – includes Uplands OELS: organic and conventional mixed farming agreements
  • Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) - more complex types of management and agreements tailored to local circumstances


Natural England is continuing to make ES payments for the 2017 agreement year. The majority of agreement holders have received at least 75% of their annual payment.

Changes to the payment split for multi-year grants

You’ll now get 75% of your annual grant as an advance payment. You’ll get the remaining 25% as a final payment (subject to any penalties or reductions). The change is effective immediately and includes your 2017 agreement payments.

You don’t need to do anything, Natural England will adjust your payments for you. There are no changes to how and when you make a claim.

Changes to digital maps

Find out how changes to digital maps on the Rural Payments service may affect your agreement.

Use the correct handbook for your agreement

The terms and conditions of your existing agreements are determined by the relevant scheme handbook.

Handbook 1: agreement start dates from 1 February 2006 to 30 September 2008

ELS handbook:

OELS handbook:

HLS handbook

Handbook 2: agreement start dates from 1 October 2008 to 31 December 2009

ELS handbook:

OELS handbook:

HLS handbook:

Handbook 3: agreement start dates from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2012

ELS handbook:

OELS handbook:

HLS handbook:

Handbook 4: agreement start dates from 1 January 2013 to 1 December 2014

Forms and guidance

Use the forms and guidance to help you manage your ES agreement.


Contact the office for your county.

County Office Address, email, telephone
Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Isles of Scilly, Somerset, Wiltshire Bristol Natural England, PO Box 3135, Bristol BS1 9GN - Email - Telephone 020 8026 6964
Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Essex, Greater London, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Surrey Cambridge Natural England, PO Box 247, Cambridge CB2 2WW - Email - Telephone 020 8026 5996
Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Humberside, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Tyne & Wear, West Yorkshire Leeds Natural England, PO Box 798, Leeds LS1 9NA - Email -Telephone 020 8026 8779
Derbyshire, Dorset, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, West Sussex, Worcestershire Worcester Natural England, PO Box 530, Worcester WR5 2WZ - Email - Telephone 020 8026 1090
Published 11 September 2012
Last updated 1 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. Link to guidance for those finding it difficult to meet scheme requirements due to hot and dry weather conditions.
  2. Link to guidance on how changes to digital maps in Rural Payments service may affect agreements added.
  3. Added section on the way payment split is changing for multi year grants.
  4. Mapping updates section added.
  5. Page updates for new Countryside Stewardship scheme
  6. notice about ELS schemes closing to new applicants
  7. update for transition to GOV.UK
  8. Added note about closure for new 2013 applications.
  9. Updated links to 4th edition handbooks. Removed case study.
  10. First published.