Farmers and land managers are being encouraged to apply for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS) which opens today.
The scheme allows farmers to apply for funding to improve their local environment – from restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands to managing flood risk.
Farming Minister Victoria Prentis explained: “An improving and expanding Countryside Stewardship scheme is a great opportunity to deliver environmental benefits on your land and receive financial incentives for doing so. I strongly encourage farmers to apply for 2022 agreements”.
Following ongoing work and customer feedback, just some of the changes to the scheme include:
- Options to improve air and water quality.
- An improved capital grant offer
- New wood pasture options at payment rates suitable for upland application
- Improved woodland management options
- Increased number of capital items available for application
In addition, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has simplified the online application process, making Tiers easier to understand and greater support for the delivery of environmental outcomes such as offering advice.
RPA Chief Executive Paul Caldwell said:
“It is easier than ever to enter into an agreement. We have worked hard to make CS simpler to apply for and for us to administer, which has seen the number of farmers who enter into agreements improve year on year. I’d urge everyone to complete their applications promptly and ensure that they don’t leave things to the last minute”.
The environmental Stewardship agreements that farmers and land managers can apply for:
- Mid-Tier – Farmers and land managers can enter five-year agreements – for revenue and capital payments and Wildlife Offer revenue-only agreements. These grants will provide a range of management options and capital items together in order to help deliver on a wide range of environmental benefits.
- Higher Tier – Applicants managing more complex land in environmentally significant sites, commons or woodlands which requires support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission. These are five or 10-year agreements.
- Capital Grants Manual – for two-year agreements. This includes an expanded offer with 67 capital items now available covering boundaries, trees and orchards. Water quality and air quality items can also be applied for if you have a Mid-Tier Wildlife Offer.
- Woodland support:
- Woodland Tree Health Manual and Woodland Management Plan Manual: These will sit alongside wider woodland creation offers available outside of CS. The Woodland Tree Health grant offers help to restore and improve tree health. The Woodland Management Plant Manual grant helps to create a UK Forestry Standard compliant management plan.
- Woodland Creation and Maintenance Manual: An integrated 2+10-year agreement to help ensure trees planted under the woodland creation grant in the first two years of the agreement are maintained for a further 10 years. This grant is to support new woodland and its longer-term maintenance. The maintenance element of this scheme is not automatic – the customer would have to be eligible.
CS will eventually be replaced with the new Environmental Land Management scheme and by entering an agreement now, farmers will be best placed to benefit from the new agricultural policy once it is fully rolled out in 2024.
To apply and find out more visit GOV.UK. Information manuals can be downloaded online from GOV.UK, or you can request to receive an application pack in the post by contacting Rural Payments Agency (RPA).