The NFU welcomes the opening of the Hedgerow and Boundary Grant (HBG) scheme in Countryside Stewardship. It offers an opportunity for farmers to carry on their good environmental work outside of a multi-annual stewardship agreement. There have been positive changes to scheme eligibility meaning more people can apply.
The Countryside Stewardship hedgerows and boundaries capital grant is open for applications with the application window closing on 30 April 2018. It is a competitive scheme with applications being scored against each other, a requirement of EU Regulations.
The grant offers up to £10,000, more than previous years, for farmers who want to restore boundary features, such as hedges and stone walls, to protect their local wildlife or landscape. Farmers who want to carry out more extensive boundary improvements can apply for these capital items as part of a mid or higher tier application. Farmers can select from a range of capital items (see table below).
Agreements are for two years and the capital works need to be completed in this timeframe. They then have three months to submit a final claim. Natural England will not accept late claims. Claims can only be submitted once the works have been paid for.
Eligibility is attached to the field parcel. If the field parcel has Countryside Stewardship Mid or Higher Tier agreement, HLS or UELS on it is not eligible. If the field has ELS/ UELS/ EWGS then, provided other criteria are met, the field could be eligible for HBG. There can only be one application per SBI accepted per grant round.
Applications and Supporting Evidence
Applications can be submitted by post or online. The online process will become available in March. In both cases supporting evidence will need to be submitted by the deadline of 28 April. The supporting evidence will need to be sent by post or email, even if the application is made online.
The types of supporting evidence that may be required (read the manual and options for more detail) could be a map for the location of the work, a photo of the location and any necessary consents. During and immediately after the agreement there will be other record keeping requirements e.g. photo of the completed works or timesheets for work when using own labour.
Guidance and Forms
The hedgerows and boundaries grant manual and application forms are available online.
Capital Items Included in the Grant
The capital items covered by the hedgerows and boundaries capital grant are:
A full description and the requirements you need to follow for each capital item can be found on the Countryside Stewardship Grants Finder Tool.