Countryside Stewardship

FWAG SW has a wealth of experience in the range of grants on offer and their suitability for your farm business. We can prepare and submit an application on your behalf and help 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 SW adviser can help you develop an application that works for you and the environment.


In 2020, FWAG SouthWest completed 144 applications on behalf of farmers in the region.
Below illustrates the financial benefits of those applications we submitted.


Countryside Stewardship has several elements; the main two are Mid Tier and Higher Tier. Outside of these are a number of stand alone grant schemes, all of which are listed below.


Mid Tier

The Mid Tier scheme 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 scheme 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 and Wild Pollinator Package, endorsement by a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (where applicable) or being part of a Facilitation 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 and the Offers for Wildlife applications. There are four Offers for Wildlife that are designed to fit with specific farm types: Arable, Upland, Lowland Grazing and Mixed Farms. These packages follow a simplified application process with a limited range of options. The offers do not include any capital items such as hedge laying or fencing. We can advise on whether the Offers for Wildlife are right for you, but in many cases, we expect that you will achieve a more rounded agreement by completing a full Mid-Tier application.

The additional nine options which were brought down from Higher Tier in 2018 are still available under Mid-Tier for the 2020 application round. These options will need prior approval from Natural England and must be requested before 31st May 2020. These include options targeting traditional orchards, wetland and species rich grassland. In addition, any water quality options that require Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) endorsement require applicants to request a visit before 31st May 2020. We therefore recommend applying for your application pack as quickly as possible to ensure you are prepared by the initial deadlines.

If you are interested in applying for any options that require planning permission or Environment Agency consent it is vital to start the application process as soon as possible to get the permissions in place before the application deadline. Once you have your Natural England, CSF and other permissions in place, your completed Mid-Tier Application must be submitted by 31st July 2020.

To order your application pack online log in to your Rural Payments account and click on the Countryside Stewardship title.


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 your local Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (CSFO). If endorsement is required, you will need to contact your local CSFO before 31st May 2020.


Higher Tier
The Higher Tier scheme targets 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 until 31st March 2020. Initial Applications must be submitted by 3rd May 2020. If you think the Higher Tier scheme 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 £10,000 per farm business is available. Agreements will run for a maximum of two years and the application window is open from 18th February until 1st May 2020.