Colleagues at Natural England have been beavering away to work through the new stewardship schemes due to start in January 2016. The name ‘Countryside Stewardship’ has been brought back for the reformed land management grants programme which now incorporates forest and woodland schemes as well as farmland and upland.
Existing Environmental Stewardship (Entry Level and Higher Level) agreements will continue until individual agreements expire (five-year or ten-year duration), but under the new regime will have a single annual round closing in September for coordinated start dates the following January. The new standard CS schemes will run for five years, paying land managers for specific options and capital works to their holding. As before, the more complex and difficult the environmental works undertaken the higher the level of subsidy they attract. Some options such as wetland creation and coastal habitat creation have 10 or 20 year agreements.
The next round of applications will open in the New Year, so Advisers at Natural England will begin again the detailed work of negotiating agreements and options to deliver the best outcomes for biodiversity, landscape, heritage, climate and resources protection. Farmers and land managers considering applying for a CS agreement in 2017 would be well advised to have a conversation with their NE adviser in the early part of 2016. More information on eligibility and applications can be found on the Countryside Stewardship scheme on the gov.uk website.
Here is a little more detail, taken directly from the Gov.uk site:
Countryside Stewardship (CS) provides financial incentives for land managers to look after their environment through activities such as:
- conserving and restoring wildlife habitats
- flood risk management
- woodland creation and management
- reducing widespread water pollution from agriculture
- keeping the character of the countryside
- preserving features important to the history of the rural landscape
- encouraging educational access
The scheme is:
- open to all eligible farmers, woodland owners, foresters and other land managers
- suitable for many types of land use (eg conventional and organic farmland, coastal areas, uplands and woodlands)
- scored against local priority targets to maximise environmental benefit
There are 3 main elements to the scheme: