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Details of the shape of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme which will replace the current environmental and woodland grant schemes under the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy have been announced by DEFRA.
The new scheme combined the grant funding previously available from both Natural England and the Forestry Commission, and there are four key aims. Agreements will be targeted towards increasing wildlife biodiversity, preventing the decline in pollinators, funding tree planting and protecting water quality.
“Countryside Stewardship will have a higher, mid and lower tier” says Jenny Towill, rural surveyor at Stags. “The options will be similar to some of those under current environmental schemes to include hedgerow management, low input pasture and wildflower plots or whole crop cereals on arable land. Agreements will still be on a 5 year basis.”
“However, the scheme is designed to be more stringent than the Environmental Stewardship we have become used to, with the higher tier reserved for high environmental importance sites such as SSSIs, and the mid tier options being targeted geographically to address particular environmental objectives in particular areas”.
“The low tier scheme is the only ‘catch all’ element. This offers capital grants for things such as hedge restoration and producing woodland management plans amongst other things” says Jenny.
“Finally, as part of the new scheme there will also be a separate capital grant fund available specifically for water management projects and woodland creation, including another round of Catchment Sensitive Farming in 2015 for those in priority catchments”.
Applications under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme will open in July 2015 and agreements and payments will start from January 2016. To discuss the new rules or for more information please contact Stags Professional Services on 01823 653424 or email:email@example.com