Positive changes, new options and simplification of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
In 2015, The Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) replaced the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme (ELS); a popular scheme which attracted more applicants than the original CSS due to its non-competitive and points based system. Although the new scheme was initially considered a complex and lengthy process, we are now seeing more applications and an excellent success rate of applications as confidence grows in the scheme and paperwork for new offers has been simplified and designed to save time.
This year, four new Wildlife Offers have been added to the scheme intended to make it easier for applicants. The popular Hedgerows and Boundaries grant will also receive additional funding allowing for a maximum grant of £10,000.
Though this scheme has fewer options available, and a number of compulsory options that must be taken, there is no limit to the number of options chosen per application, or the amount of area that can be entered into an agreement, (subject to individual option restrictions), providing the opportunity to earn more money per hectare through the Mid Tier CSS and its 2018 Wildlife Options than ELS.
Some of these new options should be less onerous and restrictive on the remainder of the farm whilst potentially providing a higher payment rate. One example is option AB9, ‘winter bird food’ which pays £640 per hectare. This, combined with no area limit for each option means farmers could receive higher annual payments. However, it is important to consider your land type and farming business when deciding on the various options to ensure the options are suitable for you.
Farmers should not be discouraged by the potentially time consuming task of matching options to local priorities and their own business as well as the previously more complex application system. With advice from experienced professionals who have now submitted a number of successful applications, farmers should easily be able to submit an application that suits them and provide themselves a regular fixed income for the next 5 years at a time when the industry is volatile together with the potential loss or reduction of BPS.
Since its conception, the number of applications have been well below the funding that has been available with 89-91% of applications successful, giving new applicants a strong chance of being accepted on to the scheme.
For advice on the new CSS scheme and to discuss options that may suit your farm, please contact Will Wallis on 01305 236572 or firstname.lastname@example.org The deadline for applications is the 31st July 2018 but application packs must be requested by 31 May 2018.