With a cut-off date of 30th September, Ben Compton, a rural expert at Bruton Knowles, advises those wanting to apply for Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship to do so with immediate effect.
Having replaced Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship (CS) is a competitive scheme so farmers will have to demonstrate they can deliver the required environmental benefits to qualify.
It’s important that this application is submitted on time and in the right way, otherwise farmers risk losing out. An online CS options tool is available and it would be a prudent use of time to get the application under way now. Also, with the grants under this scheme being competitive, the criteria for entry are much harder. This could result in farmers and landowners spending a lot of time on their application to no avail, time that could otherwise be spent on the land.
The window for applications is reasonable, so farmers shouldn’t complain that there isn’t enough time to get their forms in. What we’re keen to stress is that once the deadline has closed, that’s it. The cut-off date for 2017 applications is 30th September with offers to be issued at the start of November. Agreements for successful applicants will then start on 1st January 2017.
The 1st January 2017 date is set in stone and there is no comeback for late applicants. Farmers must get their applications in on time. The implications are financial and environmental, so anyone considering an application under the Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship scheme who is unsure what to do should get in touch.