Don’t delay – Enquire today – Chris Muir reviews the Higher Tier application process urging farmers to contact him now if you are considering an application by April 2024.

As farmers and land managers you may have been bombarded with the varying grants and schemes that have been available or are about to become available. It is difficult to know at the outset which agreement to apply for. The focus must be making the scheme work for your farming system.  Depending on the scheme choice there is a need for a greater level of interest required and therefore management required.

The Government have indicated that Higher-Tier (HT) and Countryside Stewardship plus (replacement for Mid-Tier) applications will be available in 2024 with similar application deadlines to this year, respectively (30th April & 18th August 2024). Higher-Tier agreements and grants are more complex, tailored to an individual site, require greater management with agreement periods typically over ten years. This may have been off putting previously but with fluctuating commodity prices and increasing input costs devising a sensible agreement for businesses to reduce their risk may now be an option to investigate.

Higher-Tier Schemes by name mean the site is of greater environmental importance. Applications are competitive to which only farms with high conservation value aims can apply. It aids wildlife friendly farming through a menu of land management options. Sites typically are within a designated area whether that is sites of special scientific interest, protecting rivers, heathland, streams and or historic parks. Other important habitats on the farm, which could potentially be an option include arable land incorporating wildlife friendly areas and hedgerows. Grassland plays an important part of a HT scheme too, whether that is arable reversion to grassland, creation of wet grass areas for over wintering breeding waders on open Ings land and restoration towards species rich grassland.

On proof of delivering the options you receive annual payments to help to offset the costs of setup and loss in production where applicable. Selecting appropriate options may require bird surveys to be carried out or consents to be gained through Natural England and Historic England. This all takes time, which we always think there is plenty of, however, liaising with the appropriate bodies to arrange visits and surveys can erode that time leaving a tight turnaround to ensure your application is submitted in time.

To date in 2023, Stephenson Rural have helped our clients access over £1.8m worth of funding through Higher-Tier, Mid-Tier schemes and Standalone capital grants. Please contact Chris Muir at Stephenson Rural to discuss your early application and to start the process.



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