Countryside Stewardship Middle Tier: Apply now

Countryside Stewardship Middle Tier: Apply now

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme is now open with applications to be submitted by 30th September 2016

Countryside Stewardship annual agreements are split into levels:

  • Higher Tier (similar to the old Higher Level Stewardship (HLS))
  • Middle Tier (which replaces Entry Level Stewardship (ELS))

Both Middle and Higher Tier agreements will run for five years. However, unlike previous schemes, most elements of Countryside Stewardship are competitive, which means that not everyone who applies will be successful. Targeting and scoring approaches have been developed and are aimed at encouraging applicants to choose options that help achieve the identified environmental priorities in their local area.

The Higher Tier

Applications for Higher Tier will be led by Natural England/Forestry Commission project officers and potential agreement holders for this year should have already been contacted. If you think that your land is suitable for the Higher Tier then you will need to contact Natural England or the Forestry Commission before you apply.

The Middle Tier

The majority of farms coming out of ELS will be more suited to the Middle Tier which aims to address widespread environmental issues, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and pollinators. Targeting and scoring encourages applicants to choose options that help achieve the environmental priorities that are important in their specific area. The big difference from ELS is that the scheme is competitive and it does not pay a flat rate based on achieving a points threshold.

Successful applicants will be paid per options that are put in place across the agreement area. Unlike ELS the whole holding does not have to be entered into the scheme and applicants can choose which fields on their farm are utilised. As entry into the scheme is competitive it is difficult to give exact guidance on expected payment rates but our RADA advisors can help you to work out the targets for the farm and how to maximise your points scoring potential.

Applicants are most likely to be successful if they include options for farm wildlife and pollinators and options to address water quality, along with key landscape features such as hedgerows, ponds and trees. The farm wildlife package is a specific group of options that benefits wild pollinators, farmland birds (including grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer) and other farm wildlife such as rare arable plants, great crested newts, bats and brown hare. Together, these options provide the essential resources (especially year-round food, shelter and nesting places) that wild pollinators, birds and other farm wildlife need to survive and reproduce. Examples include sowing nectar flower and winter bird food mixes, increasing flower resources on grassland and on-field margins and managing hedgerows. Evidence suggests that applying the right combination of these options over at least 3% of the farmed land of a holding will bring meaningful changes and benefits to farm wildlife. When choosing options from this package under a Mid Tier agreement applicants will be expected to use options from this package on 3-5% of their application area.

Further information about the scheme and all of the available options and payment rates can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/countryside-stewardship-get-paid-for-environmental-land-management

Contact our RADA Farm Environmental Services advisors for more information or for help in applying:

Rachel Price

Phone: 01270 613195 (press 2 when prompted)

Email: rachelp@reaseheath.ac.uk

Mobile: 07976 364730