The Natural England scheme will provide capital grants of up to £5000 to plant and restore hedgerows, for earth and stone bank restoration, and to restore, repair and maintain stone walls.
For 2017 land managers with an existing ELS or EWGS agreement are eligible to apply for the grant as long as the works do not form part of another agreement. Also, in another change to eligibility, existing agreement holders with Countryside Stewardship, UELS or HLS can apply for the grant as long as the land parcel included in the application is not in an existing agreement.
The application process is straight forward, applications must be submitted by 28th April 2017 and can be submitted by post, email and also online (www.gov.uk/claim-rural-payments). The website includes guidance on how to complete the application. All work has to be carried out within 2 years of the agreement start date. All work must be completed and claimed for by 31st December 2018.
The scheme is competitive, you are more likely to be successful if:
- there is lots of work to be done – applications for over £1000 show that there are plenty of boundaries to work on;
- it is a smaller farm using the maximum money, rewarding the intense work required for smaller farms;
- you have previously been a part of a multi-annual Rural Development scheme before (e.g. the English Woodland Grant Scheme or the Entry Level Stewardship);
- you have specific hedgerow or wall items in mind – hedge-laying and stone wall restoration receive bonus scores;
- you are a member of a Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Funded group.
Worried about how Brexit will impact your application? Successful applicants will be guaranteed funding after the UK leaves the EU if the schemes were signed before this departure, as long as they are deemed good value for money, and they are in line with domestic strategic policies.
Application forms are available on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/countryside-stewardship-capital-grant-application-form.
More than £5000 worth of work needed? Consider incorporating the work into a Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which is expected to open shortly.
For more information on the Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant or Countryside Stewardship in general please contact Fiona Tweedie, Agri-environment Consultant on 0113 390 0012.