Relaunch of Countryside Stewardship Schemes

Mike ShawyerPosted 11 January 2018 By Mike Shawyer, Partner In Rural and Landed Estates

The first tranche of Basic Payment monies from the Countryside Stewardship Scheme have arrived in bank accounts, with more than 71,000 farms receiving their payment. According to the Rural Payments Agency, payments worth £1.3bn have been made so far, to nearly 85% of eligible claimants.

The start of the year brings more positive news regarding the Stewarship scheme; preliminatry details were recently released in November on the plans announced by Michael Gove to revitalise the Countryside Stewardship schemes.

The Environment Secretary said "I have set out plans to improve our current schemes, starting with simplifying support for farmers to protect and enhance our landscapes and countryside. But these measures are just the beginnning - the first steps towards a simplified system of support.

"Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be working closely with our farmers to make sure we listen to what they want as we design a new approach and realise our vision fo rthe future of UK food and farming outside the EU."

Changes to the Scheme

The new arrangements will be much easier to access and strongly resemble the old entry level scheme (ELS). There are four categories:

  • Arable
  • Grassland
  • Mixed farms
  • Upland farms

Under each category, applicants can "mix and match" from a range of the most popular stewardship options. There are also improvements, more money and easier application for the "hedges and boundaries" option.

These include options such as AB8 for overwintered stubble, which can help with blackgrass control, and a range of buffering, field margin and hedgerow management plans. All of these willl improve the farmed environment without necessarily reducing production.

Most importantly, and not unlike the previous Stewardship schemes, the new offers will no longer be subject to competitive "point scoring". Therefore, any eligible farmer can join the scheme. Full details and application forms will be released by the Rural Payments Agency later this month.

To discuss this or anything else please contact Mike Shawyer on 01793 818300 or send him an email.


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