The Countryside Stewardship 2017 application round is now open for Mid-Tier applications.

FWAG SW has a wealth of experience about the range of grants on offer and their suitability for your farm business. We can prepare and submit an application on your behalf and we can help you with your evidence and record keeping requirements.
Entrance into most elements of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme is competitive. The success of an application will depend on selecting the right options for the right places, according to local environmental priorities. Your local FWAG adviser can help you to develop a strong application that works for you and the environment.

Countryside Stewardship has 3 main elements:

Mid Tier

The Mid Tier offers management options and capital items to achieve simple, but effective environmental benefits. The options are tailored towards local priorities in the wider countryside. The choice of management options on offer is more limited than in Higher Tier, but still includes some organic and upland options. Agreements last for 5 years. There are no options or capital items for woodland or educational access in the Mid Tier and there is no direct assistance from Natural England.

Applications will be given a basic score according to delivery of local priorities. There are various ways in which the basic score can be enhanced, such as delivering the Farm Wildlife & Wild Pollinator Package, endorsement by a Catchment Sensitive Farming (where applicable) or being part of a Facilitated Group. Finally, the application will be assessed for “value for money”. The only elements of Mid Tier that are not competitive are the organic conversion and management options.

Mid Tier Water Capital Grants

Grants for improving water quality are also available as a capital only agreement. Mid Tier Water Capital Grants run for 2 years and the maximum agreement value is £10,000. As with multi-annual agreements some Countryside Stewardship capital items require written support from a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (CSFO).

The Mid-Tier application window for this year is March 10th – 30th September. Application packs MUST be ordered by 31st July 2017 and we strongly recommend that you order your pack as soon as possible, even if you are not sure if you will apply. You can Contact FWAG for help at all stages of the application process.

Higher Tier

The Higher Tier covers the most environmentally significant sites, such as nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Scheduled Ancient Monuments, commons and woodlands. It offers a wider and more complex range of annual management and one-off capital payments to reflect the special needs of these habitats and features.

The first step towards entry into the Higher Tier is either through the submission of an Initial Application (previously called an “Expression of Interest”) or an invitation by Natural England. If NE approve the Initial Application or you are invited to apply, an NE adviser will oversee the application process.

Higher Tier is open to request an Initial Application pack from 10th March – 13th April 2017. Initial Applications must be submitted by 5th May 2017. If you think the Higher Tier is for you then early contact with your local Natural England officer is strongly recommended and FWAG SouthWest can help put you in touch.

Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant

The Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant is a standalone capital grant which aims to produce environmental and landscape benefits by improving hedgerows and boundaries on your land. A maximum grant of £5,000 per farm business is available. Agreements will run for a maximum of two years. 2017 agreement holders must complete the capital works and submit an eligible claim by December 2018.

Woodland Grants

Woodland Creation:

The woodland creation grant closed on the 1st March for this year’s round, but is due to open again in early in 2018.
This 2-year standalone grant provides funding to supply, plant, weed and protect young trees, payments are capped at £6,800/ha.
The application must be at least 3ha in total. However, applications down to 1ha are accepted for schemes that will improve water quality or reduce flooding. After the initial application is submitted a woodland officer will work with your advisor to finalise the woodland design and grant.
There will also be the option to apply for a maintenance grant to help with the upkeep of the new woodland of £200/ha for up to 10 years, through the Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier Option WD1 Woodland Creation Maintenance, where eligible.
Although this land can’t be used for any agricultural activity for 5 years after the final payment of the grant, the landowner can continue to claim Basic Payment Scheme payments on the land until the end of the maintenance grant.

Woodland Management Plans:

This is a two-year capital grant to complete a Forestry Commission approved woodland management plan (WMP). Working with FWAG advisors, a WMP can help you develop objectives and a work schedule for your woods, providing benefits to wildlife and your farm business. An approved WMP also allows you to access further grants for woodland improvement.
The WMP capital grant is £1000 for woodlands up to 100ha, with an additional £10/ha over the first 100ha. To be eligible you must have at least 3ha of woodland on your holding.

Woodland Improvement Funding:

Funding for woodland improvement is now available through the Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Application packs must be requested by 13th April and an expression of interest submitted by the 5th May 2017. It is also necessary to have a Forestry Commission approved woodland management plan (WMP) in place before applying.
The WD2 woodland improvement option gives a payment of £100/ha per year to improve and enhance the woodland for biodiversity and resilience to climate change, based on your WMP. In addition, there is the opportunity to apply for capital options including deer fencing, improvement of woodland infrastructure, restoration and management of woodland pasture and tree planting.