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The next application window for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme is now open, providing a chance for more farmers and land managers to prepare for the future and receive payment for environmental work.
Through the scheme, farmers in England can apply for funding to improve their local environment – from restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands to managing flood risk.
Applying this year will allow businesses to prepare for the government’s future Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme, which will reward farmers for producing ‘public goods’, such as better air and water quality or improved access to the countryside.
The Government will be rolling out a national pilot in 2021 to test how ELM works on the ground, with the scheme expected to be fully operational by the end of 2024. CS provides a stepping stone to this future, paying for environmental enhancements now as area-based payments are phased out.
Farmers and land managers who are new to taking on environmental work or with expired or expiring Environmental Stewardship agreements can apply for:
Mid Tier – Farmers and land managers can choose from all available multi-year options and capital items to form an agreement which delivers local environmental benefits. The deadline for applications is 31 July 2020.
Higher Tier – Applicants managing more complex land in environmentally significant sites, commons or woodlands which requires support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2020.
Wildlife Offers – Designed to help guide farmers to the most straightforward options for their farm type, making it simpler to secure a CS agreement. Offers are split into different packages for farm types: arable, lowland grazing, upland, and mixed farming. The deadline for applications is 31 July 2020.
Hedgerows and Boundaries – Provides grants for farmers to restore existing farm boundaries and hedgerows on their land. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2020.
Woodland Support – Farmers and land managers can apply for woodland creation, management plan and tree health grants all year round. Woodland creation provides funding to supply, plant, weed and protect young trees. The management plan grant is a capital grant to produce a woodland management plan. The tree health grant is for restocking or improving woodland after tree health problems.
Farming Minister George Eustice said:
'Paying farmers for protecting the environment and enhancing animal welfare is front and centre of our future farming policy and entering a Countryside Stewardship Scheme is a good stepping stone to that future policy.
'There is nothing to be gained by holding back. We are guaranteeing that anyone who joins our new scheme in the future will be able to leave their CS agreement early in order to do so.'
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