The aim of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is to help improve and protect our natural environment. The new scheme was put in to place to replace the current Environmental Stewardship funding combining a range of land management options in the process. Funding is open to all entitled farmers but is competitive meaning that not everyone who applies for the funding will be successful.
Within the new scheme there are two types of agreements, Mid Tier agreements and Higher Tier agreements. The Mid Tier agreements are for environmental improvements; whereas Higher Tier agreements are for more complex management options and are targeted at the highest priority sites.
Mid Tier, and most of the Higher Tier agreements, will last for five years with payments for land management options being claimed for annually.
The application period is set to close on 30 September 2015 for Mid and Higher Tier agreements. Applications will then be scored, ranked and selected, with agreements expected to be offered to the selected businesses in October and November 2015, with an official start date of 1 January 2016.
The Rural Development Programme of England authorise all agricultural funding and have restrictions in place which mean that a rural enterprise may not be paid twice through their funding. This means that you cannot receive payment for the same thing twice through different schemes (this process is also known as double funding). Therefore, where land is already being used to meet Ecological Focus Area requirements for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), some may find their payment rates reduced for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to avoid any double funding.
Your BPS claims will also be cross-checked to confirm that the management options under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme match your BPS claim.
This means that if your current Environmental Stewardship agreements are due to expire on, or before 31 December 2015, you may need to think about applying to the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme now.
For more information on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme contact our Agricultural Specialists on 01228 711888.
Posted: August 28th, 2015