Today, our Countryside Stewardship scheme opened for 2022 agreements.
Countryside Stewardship offers financial incentives to farmers, woodland owners and land managers to take care of their environment.
This includes things like conserving and restoring wildlife habitats and managing flood risk. A longer list can be found on the official GOV.UK guidance page.
Countryside Stewardship has been around for quite some time. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA), responsible for administering CS, has worked with the industry to improve the process and offer online. We will blog about how the team did this in the coming weeks.
From today applicants will experience a simplified process and more options. In response to user’s feedback, a number of changes were made. These include:
- new options to help improve air quality, water quality and reduce ammonia emissions
- improving the capital grant offer, making 67 options available which can sit alongside a wildlife offer
- creating new wood pasture options in the uplands, at payment rates suitable for upland application, providing a mosaic habitat of grassland, scrub and trees
- making the capital offer available to Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement holders, where the options are compatible
- improving woodland options, including bringing bracken control and stone wall options into woodland management and combining Woodland Creation and Woodland Maintenance grants
- increasing the number of capital items that farmers can apply for using the Rural Payments service, covering water capital, hedgerows and boundaries and air quality
- expanding eligibility criteria for the upland option UP2 (management of rough grazing for birds), enabling more land managers to access this option and further improve the upland offer.
Countryside Stewardship will eventually be replaced with the new Environmental Land Management scheme. By entering an agreement now, farmers will benefit from the new agricultural policy once it is fully rolled out in 2024.
We will provide a straightforward way for CS scheme agreement holders to transfer across to Environmental Land Management once it’s ready. We’ll publish more information about that later this year.
Farmers and land managers who are new to taking on environmental work or with expired or expiring Environmental Stewardship agreements can apply for mid-tier, higher-tier, capital grants and woodland support.
If you apply, let us know how you found the experience in the comments.