Countryside Stewardship Scheme opens in UK for third year
The targeted, competition-based scheme provides funds for farmers working to restore habitats, improve water quality and woodland, reduce flood risk and support birds and pollinators on their land.
The grants are only awarded to applicants whose plans are deemed best for their area.
Declaring the scheme open for application, Natural England promised improvements to the process, including simplified evidence requirements for claims and said the quango is making additional support available for the scheme.
The Mid Tier of Countryside Stewardship offers 5-year agreements for environmental improvements in the wider countryside, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the environment for birds, pollinators and farm wildlife.
Higher Tier specifically focuses on environmentally important sites, including commons and woodlands, where the more complex management requires support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission, including more tailored options.
Application packs can be requested from Natural England by calling 0300 060 3900.
Those thinking of applying for the Higher Tier, including woodland improvement, will need to have submitted an initial application by 5th May 2017.
Natural England said Higher Tier application packs should be requested by 13th April, to give farmers time to prepare their application.
Mid Tier applications need to be submitted by 30th September 2017 and application packs should be requested by 31st July.
Natural England said it will contact everyone who has a Higher Level Stewardship or Entry Level Stewardship agreement expiring this year to let them know which scheme they will be most suited to and what support is available. ■