Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

£900 million supports new Countryside Stewardship scheme

There is a £900 million pot to be shared among rural businesses under Countryside Stewardship, the new environmental land management scheme unveiled by Defra at the end of November.

It replaces ELS and HLS, with applications likely to start from next July for mostly five year agreements that begin in 2016.

It offers a Higher Tier (similar to HLS), Mid Tier (similar to ELS) and Lower tier capital grants, with a menu of options for the latter and payment rates set out in detail in a copious list downloadable from Defra’s website. Higher, Mid, and Lower tier grants will be subject to on-line application only.

The detail of the scoring system is still being developed and Defra has committed to publishing more information about this in January 2015.

Water Capital Grants of up to £10,000 per holding, aimed at reducing water pollution from agriculture, and Woodland Creation Grants are available at the start of 2015.

These grant schemes will be delivered by Natural England, the Forestry Commission, and the Rural

Payments Agency with applications only in written format. Water Capital Grants applications can be made from 2 March to 30 April 2015. Works must be completed and claimed by 29 January 2016. Defra currently plans that applications for Woodland Creation Grants can be made from February 2015 for a limited time only but the closing date has not yet been decided.

Defra has highlighted the “Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package” which is more targeted in its aims through additional specific options –applications under this package will score more highly and, importantly, some can be used for EFA Greening too.

Double Funding with BPS could be an issue and there is a list of 19 payment options which count as double funded options that will be subject to payment reductions - these tend to focus on the buffer strip type options.

How applications will be assessed will depend on take-up and available funds. At the moment, 12 per cent of direct payment funds are going to these schemes but this could be increased to 15 per cent in 2016.

Christopher D'OlleyMRICS

Partner

Christopher D'Olley is a Rural Partner in the Winchester office. He is a Chartered Surveyor and Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, with over 30 years experience. Work undertake...

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