Following years of criticism of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, its complexities, record keeping, lack of suitable options and confusing guidance, Natural England are now proposing substantial changes to the scheme with effect from 2018.
The proposal is for 4 new offers to be available to all farmers which will be simpler and easier for farmers to apply for and will not be competitive, meaning it will be open to all farmers provided they can meet the requirements.
The 4 offers include Arable, Lowland Grazing, Upland and Mixed Farming. Each offer has options tailored to allow farmers to deliver environmental management no matter what type of land they farm. The existing Mid-Tier and Higher-Tier schemes remain open to applicants and will be complimented by the new offers.
A further key change is that the Hedgerow & Boundary Grant which has been so popular over recent years, will have its maximum grant increased from £5,000 to £10,000 per applicant, this will allow farmers and land managers to apply for rebuilding of up to 400m of stone walls or laying of up to 1060m of hedgerows in any one year.
If you would like to discuss the CSS and if the proposed changes will work on your holding, please contact a member of our Agricultural Team on 01423 860322.