The application window is now open for Countryside Stewardship Mid and Higher Tier agreements that start on 1 January 2019 and the Hedgerow and Boundary Grants.
In Mid-Tier there are new wildlife offers available which have a simplified application process. These offers are available for arable, lowland grazing, mixed and uplands. In particular the NFU lobbied for the uplands offer.
The NFU asked for more options to be available in Mid-Tier. These are nine more options available in Mid-Tier for 2018 applications. There will be additional steps the applicant needs to take to use these options in an agreement.
The maximum grant for Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant has been increased to £10,000 from £5,000 last year. This is a positive step.
The deadline for Mid-Tier applications will be earlier than last year at 31 July. This is to enable agreement offers to be made by the end of the year. The NFU has supported this approach as it provides certainty to applicants.
Countryside Stewardship and greening: Double Funding
Rural Development Programme (RDP) funding must not pay twice for the same activity (known as double funding). For this reason it is not possible to overlap CS options and Ecological Focus Area (EFA) options in agreements starting January 1 2019. However, co-location in the same parcel, where the options do not overlap is permitted.
Mid-Tier Timescales and Deadlines
- Can apply for the arable offer online from 20 February
- Request application packs by 31 May
- Final date to request endorsement by Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer or other adviser to approve specific options 31 May
- Deadline for Mid-Tier applications including all supporting evidence by 31 July
- Agreement start 1 January 2019
Higher Tier Deadlines
- Request application packs by 9 March
- Deadline to submit initial application 13 April
- Notified of success or failure by early June
- Negotiations on scheme detail concluded by mid-September
- Agreements start 1 January 2019
Hedgerow and Boundary Grants
- Applications can be made online, paper or email. Deadline 30 April
- Deadline 16 February
The full scheme guidance and rules for each of these schemes can be found on Gov.uk.