Countryside Stewardship – Last chance!

Applications for Countryside Stewardship Higher-Tier (HT) and Mid-Tier (MT) Schemes will open for the final time in early 2023 with demand likely to be high. Recent uncertainty as to what future schemes will look like and when these will be rolled out following a review, now is the time to consider if a stewardship scheme could fit into your existing farming system.

One of the benefits of a HT or MT scheme is the increased level of capital available for new concrete yards, covering muck stores in farmyards, fencing, hedges, and above ground tanks to harvest rainwater. These schemes have a capital ceiling of £120,000 opposed to a standalone capital only grant of £20,000. Many of our clients have benefitted from large scale improvements with every concrete application submitted last year being successful with the value being over £400,000.

Consent for approvals from Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers (CSFO) is required for many items and we have an excellent working relationship with officers across Yorkshire. Application forms, basic plans and requests for support must be submitted well in advance of a site visit if there is “connectivity”. Being in a high phosphate and sediment priority area will increase your chances to access funding. It can be frustrating if neighbours seem to have accessed funds, but it relates to levels of potential diffuse pollution and value for money, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

If your land falls into a land designation (Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSi)) this can open the door to apply for a HT Scheme. Depending upon the increased environmental importance of site, land options and capital items can attract increased payment rates. This scheme is more complex and requires Natural England and possibly Catchment Sensitive Farming approval.

Reviewing land options for both HT and MT schemes considering buffer strips, awkward shapes, or corners of fields for wild bird feed and nectar flower mixes, annual revenues can be surprising. Not only are you benefitting with a better working environment, reducing diffuse pollution having concreted the yard protecting watercourses but also increasing biodiversity across your land.

With there being only six and nine months respectively until deadlines for applications being submitted, you need to act now if you are considering capital projects. These schemes are competitive, therefore a well thought out and balanced land option / capital scheme must be formulated to ensure it scores highly with rural payments agency.

We are currently offering a free 1-hour Stewardship appraisal, to assess availability of both annual payments and capital grants. Please call in to Stephensons Rural, York Auction Centre to discuss further.

Chris Muir 01904 489731

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