02 Feb APPLICATION WINDOW FOR NEW COUNTRYSIDE STEWARDSHIP SCHEMES COMING SOON
Natural England have confirmed that an application window will open in weeks for new Countryside Stewardship Scheme agreements with a January 2020 start date, but timings are critical. The application window is predicted to open on the 18th February 2019 for approximately 3 months. If an application is successful, a new 5 year agreement will be granted.
The new scheme is split in to four different application types; Higher Tier, Mid Tier, Capital Grants including those for field boundaries and historic building restoration and Wildlife Offers which are essentially simplified, predefined agreements for various farm types.
The first three of the above are competitive and scored nationally. Wildlife Offers only require certain criteria to be met for an agreement to be achieved.
Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency are ridged in terms of time frames and their application criteria is strict, and therefore, if you are interested in applying, here are some things to consider:
The application process starts this month, and therefore registering your interest now is important. If a Higher Tier route is being applied for, Natural England case officers must agree detailed management options with you by July 2019 before an application must be formally submitted to Natural England by the end of September 2019 for a January 2020 start date.
If you have unregistered woodland which you would like to include, those parcels need to be registered now, in order for them to be processed in time to be included with the new agreement application.
Including woodland in a Countryside Stewardship Scheme agreement also requires a Woodland Management Plan to be in place. This can take the Forestry Commission approximately 12 months to generate, but a standalone woodland agreement is an available option if time frames are a barrier.
Capital works can be included as part of the agreement, but can only be paid for provided works haven’t started prior to the commencement of the agreement start date, i.e the 1st January 2020. Historic building restoration can be included, but this will require owl and bat surveys prior to works.
If you would like to find out more about the forthcoming Countryside Stewardship Scheme application window, and how a scheme could benefit your holding, then please do get in touch and we will be more than happy to help provide advice and assist you with an application.