Countryside Stewardship replaces Environmental Stewardship, English Woodland Grant and Catchment Sensitive Farming. Two tiers of annual management agreement are available Higher Tier and Mid Tier. Both Tiers are targeted and competitive so there will be no automatic entry, unlike the previous ELS.
These are targeted at the highest priority sites where complex management such as habitat restoration or specific management for priority species is required. This tier also includes all woodland agreements.
The application process is similar to the previous Higher Level Stewardship, with a comparable range of options designed to deliver significant environmental benefits.
Entry is by an Expression of interest (EoI) or by invitation by Natural England. If NE approve the EoI they will invite the application and an NE adviser will oversee the application process. If you haven’t submitted an EoI (deadline 15th July 2015) farmers can still apply but will need to undertake the application process themselves without NE support.
These agreements will concentrate on delivering local priorities in the wider countryside, such as reducing diffuse pollution or providing habitat for farmland birds and pollinators. This tier also includes the organic support payments.
Entry is competitive and applications will be scored on how well they meet local priorities. There will be limited input from Natural England and only those applications with the highest scores will be offered an agreement, so professional advice will be key to making a successful application.
Most CS agreements will last 5 years. The exceptions to this are agreements involving Common Land, woodland creation or complex habitat restoration, which may be for 10 years.
Also available are capital grant agreements which last for one or two years and are not linked to any land management agreements. Grants are available for items including work for soil & water protection, boundary restoration and woodland management.
The application window for Defras’ new Countryside Stewardship scheme opened on the 1st of July and closes at the end of September so there are only two months left to submit an application.
The 244 option descriptions that are available, together with details of payments available, go to:
We have teamed up with Black Sheep Countryside Management to provide this work. They are a Wiltshire based firm who specialise in agri-environment consultancy, which we feel may increase the application success rate. If you are interested in making an application please get in touch as soon as possible.