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Volume 456: debated on Thursday 1 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for how many new entrants to the (a) entry and (b) higher level stewardship schemes there is funding available in 2007. (111629)

The budget for Environmental Stewardship will be allocated from the new Rural Development Programme covering the period 2007 to 2013, which is currently under consultation in the European Parliament.

The Government are committed to keeping Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) open to all eligible farmers and, provided the current level of interest continues, we should achieve our target of 60 per cent. of eligible land in England by the end of this year. The Government is equally committed to Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and Natural England is working hard to process valid applications from both strands of Environmental Stewardship into agreements.