18 Feb COUNTRYSIDE STEWARDSHIP SCHEME APPLICATION WINDOW OPENS TODAY, MONDAY 18TH FEBRUARY 2019
The application window for new Countryside Stewardship Schemes with a 1st January 2020 start date opens today; Monday 18th February 2019.
The new scheme is split in to four different application types; Higher Tier, Mid Tier, Wildlife Offers which are essentially simplified, predefined agreements for various farm types, and Capital Grants including those for field boundaries. Wildlife offers are not scored; if you meet the specified requirements, you will be offered an agreement. If your application for any of these schemes is successful, your agreement will start on 1 January 2020. Most multi-year agreements are for 5 years.
Higher Tier – Multi-year agreements and certain standalone capital items for the most environmentally important sites, including commons and woodlands. These are usually in places that need complex management, such as restoring habitats, and improving woodland.
Mid Tier – Multi-year agreements and capital items that focus on widespread environmental issues, such as reducing water pollution or improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and wild pollinators. Also includes water capital grants.
Wildlife Offers – Multi-year agreements with a range of highly targeted and effective options. They support wildlife by creating sources of nectar and pollen for insect pollinators, winter food for seed-eating birds and improved habitats. Four different offers are available tailored to specific farming practices.
Capital Grants – these are typically for 1 or 2 years. Hedgerows and Boundaries: capital grant to restore existing farm boundaries, and provide benefits to the environment and landscape. Woodland Management Plans: a one-off payment to support the production of a UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant 10 year woodland management plan. Woodland Tree Health: one-off payment to restock or improve woodland due to tree health problems. Woodland Creation Grant: a 2 year capital grant to plant and protect young trees.
Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency are ridged in terms of time frames and their application criteria is strict. Therefore, if you are interested in applying, here are some things to consider:
The application process starts today, 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 and the application deadline is the 3rd May 2019. Application Packs can be requested from the 18th February 2019, and these will be issued from early March.
– If a Mid Tier or Wildlife Offer route is being applied for, the application deadline is the 31 July 2019, but expressions of interest must be issued to Natural England and an application pack applied for before the 31st May 2019.
– The Hedgerow and Boundaries Capital Grant has an application window which opens on the 18th February 2019 and closes on the 3rd May 2019, with offers expected to be released as from the 1st July 2019.
A summary of the timings is detailed below.
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.
A link to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme Overview Booklet can be found by clicking here. If you would like to find out more about the Countryside Stewardship Schemes 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.