The scheme rewards farmers for meeting local environmental objectives. Unlike ELS, where the maximum payment per hectare was £30, in Countryside Stewardship, an agreement holder gets paid for what they actually do. In addition, the scheme doesn’t have to be applied across the whole farm, which offers considerable flexibility.
“We submitted an application in 2016 on our 250 ha arable farm in Lincolnshire, which included buffering of watercourses, management of hedgerows and some arable options to encourage wild birds and pollinators (AB1 and AB9) on less productive land. We were able to meet the local objectives even though at first sight we don’t have a lot of “environmental” interest but have secured an agreement which will contribute quite a bit to farm income over the next 5 years – Mrs Chris Black, Susworth, Lincolnshire”
Natural England are keen for farmers to apply for Countryside Stewardship in 2017 and are providing additional support to help applicants to complete their applications.
Starting mid-April, there will be events held around the country to raise awareness of the Scheme and help land managers to understand how to submit an application. As well as these popular events, potential applicants can access 2 free one to one sessions with a specialist consultant to help them to make a quality application.
There are two types of support available at individual clinics. Initial advice that will help to identify options and items to include in the application that will enhance the application’s chance of being successful and guidance on the draft application where the consultant will check the application to make sure that the form and maps are correct, eligibility criteria has been met, that the application includes appropriate options and capital items and that all required evidence is included.
The booking line for events and the advice sessions is 08453 713399 or email email@example.com. To request an application pack for Countryside Stewardship, contact Natural England on 0208 026 1089.
The Government has confirmed that it will guarantee funding for Countryside Stewardship grants if these are agreed and signed before the UK’s departure from the EU. A successful application to the scheme in 2017 would result in an agreement that would start on 1st January 2018. Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier agreements are 5 years long.
To find out how your farm could benefit from Countryside Stewardship contact Fiona Tweedie on 0113 390 0012 or 07766 44 1934 (firstname.lastname@example.org)