Natural England has this week announced the opening of 2018 applications for its range of Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Alongside the existing Higher Tier Scheme, Mid-Tier Scheme and Hedgerows and Boundaries Capital Grant Scheme, 2018 marks the launch of its four new streamlined offers to include Arable, Lowland, Mixed and Upland.
Natural England has been disappointed with the uptake of its Countryside Stewardship Schemes since the closure of its ever popular Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Higher Level Stewardships (HLS) Scheme some three years ago. General feedback from agents such as ourselves and individual farmers who have responded to Natural England’s surveys is that the existing Mid-Tier and Higher Tier Schemes are particularly burdensome for farmers with some of the most popular options under the ELS and HLS Schemes having been removed. In addition, the application process for Mid-Tier and Higher Tier has been somewhat more in depth than the previous Natural England Schemes and the application period has clashed with peak times in the farming calendar.
Natural England hopes that the streamlined Arable, Lowland, Mixed and Upland “offers” and its more targeted options will appeal to farmers. Here at Lister Haigh, we do feel that the new streamlined “offers” do simplify the application process and allow the creation of a less intensive scheme that is easier to integrate into the farming system.
Please note: application packs must now be requested by 31st May 2018 with the deadline for applications now being the 31st July 2018 as opposed to 30th September.
If your ELS or HLS scheme is ending in 2018 or if indeed you are not currently in a multi-year scheme and you feel that the revised and simplified range of schemes may be of interest, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our specialist agricultural team on 01423 860322 who will be able to undertake an appraisal on your behalf as to the likely income, management requirements and any constraints from the various options that may be suited to your holding.