Countryside Stewardship – is it worth it?
It is that time of year again, in the aftermath of Basic Payment Scheme applications, that our thoughts start turning Countryside Stewardship and what it may be able to offer landowners on top of their subsidy payments, for preserving and enhancing the environment.
The deadlines for the Hedgerow and Boundaries Grant and the High-Tier Countryside Stewardship have now passed (3rd May). However, Mid-Tier Stewardship (the equivalent of Entry Level Stewardship) is still up for grabs this year with a start date of 1st January 2020, for a five year term. The main differences between the old scheme and Countryside Stewardship are how payments are made and the competitive application process. Countryside Stewardship payments are per metre, per hectare or per unit basis rather than a points based system. It really is a case of the more you put in, the more you get out, and the more likely you are to get an agreement offer!
Countryside Stewardship offers a range of annual options (grassland and arable) and a range of capital options including fencing, hedge laying, hedgerow coppicing, earth bank restoration, stone wall repair/restoration etc. Capital work must be completed within two years of the start date. Successful applications generally have a good balance of annual options and capital options.
There are also a range of water capital options which are on offer if you are in the high and medium priority areas for water management which include roofing over yards, concrete yard renewal, livestock and machinery tracks, stoning gateways and troughs, fencing livestock out of streams and installing water troughs. The land must fall in the high priority water area in order to be eligible for the larger options (roofing, concrete and tracks) and approval must be sought from a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer, the Environment Agency and in many cases planning permission must be sought from the local council.
It is important to remember that land cannot be in two agreements at the same time, but unlike the old schemes, the whole farm does not need to be entered into the agreement. Another point to note is that capital work cannot be added in at a later date, everything you intend to do on the land in the agreement must be included in the original application.
To conclude, if you are considering applying for Countryside Stewardship, please get in touch as soon as possible to see if Countryside Stewardship is a viable option for your farm. We can quickly identify suitable options and benefits to save you time and hassle. Application packs must be requested before 31st May 2019 and applications must be submitted before 31st July 2019.
Lisabeth Miller BSc (Hons) MRICS FAAV, Rural Chartered Surveyor
Tel: 01409 259551 | Mobile: 07741 312305 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org