THERE is disappointment at Defra's lack of ambition of the draft Sustainable Farming Incentive Moorland and Rough Grazing Standard for 2022.

“This is not the scheme we were hoping for.” Julia Aglionby, Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land commented, “SFI22 on Moorland is much lower in ambition and offer than we had expected.”

Julia added, “Some money is though on offer so it is important farmers access it to support them adapt their businesses. At only £6.45/ha/yr, i.e. 10 percent of the Moorland BPS rate, there is no point looking to this as a replacement for BPS. Instead, we suggest commoners and farmers use this money to enable them to prepare for transition including improving livestock profitability, to SFI higher levels of ambition and the Local Nature Recovery scheme.”

The SFI Introductory Standard will from 2022 be available to all land above the Moorland line even if in an existing Stewardship Scheme. 75 percent of the approx. 780,000 ha of Moorland is already in Stewardship Schemes and 37 percent of all Moorland is common land, nearly 300,000 ha.

How SFI22 will work on commons land remain to be finalised but it is known that there will be a single agreement for each commons management unit and that the applicant is expected to be the Association that holds the Stewardship Scheme. The Foundation for Common Land continues to press Defra for more support for facilitating agreements on commons and more effective governance and stands ready to assist with the final design to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Chris Short, Chair of the Foundation for Common Land added, “We remain committed to support commoners and managers improve the resilience of commoning and benefits from common land. In December there are ‘Getting Ready for ELM on Commons’ evening meetings in Shropshire, Dartmoor and the Lakes.”