Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

Don’t miss these grant opportunities

Countryside Stewardship (CS) is the new overarching scheme under which agri-environment, catchment sensitive farming and Woodland Grants are to be made.

Its launch last year was widely regarded as being totally chaotic, with some guidance notes arriving after the application deadline had closed. So it was testament to the pioneering nature of many farmers and their advisors that 2,344 Mid Tier and 326 Higher Tier applications were submitted. Having said that, Natural England is still working through these applications despite the start date of the schemes being 1st January 2016.

However, despite last year’s applications still needing to be sorted, a number of new grants and initiatives have opened, or are about to open, that may be of interest to farmers in these straightened times.

On 1st February the Hedges and Boundaries Capital Grant scheme opened which is a stand-alone application process under the overall banner of CS.

The maximum grant available is £5,000 per farmer and the application period closes on 30th April.

There are 12 capital items available with different payment rates which include grants for:

• Hedgerows: planting, laying, coppicing, gapping up and supplements for casting up and top binding and staking
• Earth bank restoration

• Stone faced banks: repair and restoration
• Stone walls: restoration and supplements for top wiring and stone from quarry

The supplements can only be applied for with the associated capital item and photographic evidence will be required before and after the works take place.

While on a rather grander scale, the CS Facilitation Fund opened on 18th January with the aim of providing support to bring together groups of farmers to work in partnership to deliver CS at a “Landscape scale”. This scheme closes on 18th March.

The facilitator needs to be able to demonstrate environmental land management experience and facilitation skills. They will be required to bring together a minimum of four landowners whose total farm area is at least 2,000ha and the facilitator could receive up to £12,000 per annum. The applications are assessed on a competitive basis.

Then expressions of interest for the CS Higher Tier will need to be submitted during February / March. These will be assessed by Natural England with those which are approved being worked up in to full applications between June and September for the actual agreement to commence on 1st January 2017.

Finally, the Mid Tier application manual with online “priorities option tool” will be available from mid March which it hoped will help farmers understand what Natural England are looking to achieve, thereby making the application process which runs from 1st June to 30th September more straightforward than it was last year.

James Stephen

James Stephen


James is a partner who heads up Carter Jonas’ South West rural operation, managing the teams in the four offices of Marlborough, Bath, Taunton and Truro.  He primarily works out of the Taun...

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