The number of Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship (CS) applicants has increased by 13% this year, with nearly 6,500 packs requested before 31 August. In one day alone, nearly 500 application packs were requested. Natural England is now reminding applicants that they must submit their applications with all supporting evidence by Friday 30 September 2016.
Guy Thompson, Natural England’s Chief Operating Officer, said:
We have listened to farmers and stakeholders about the design of Countryside Stewardship and it is great to see them responding so positively to the changes. Not only does it clearly demonstrate the genuine desire of the farming community to protect their local environment but, with the scheme providing successful applicants with a fixed income for five years, it also makes good business sense.
This year’s Mid Tier and Higher Tier CS schemes were launched on 14 March 2016. Both schemes are competitive and targeted and will fund projects to restore habitats, improve water quality and woodland, reduce flood risk, protect landscapes and provide year-round food and shelter for pollinators, birds and other wildlife.
Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) said:
It is very heart-warming that farming has responded so positively. The last few months have been an uncertain time for many farm businesses; however, they are voting with their feet and showing their firm commitment to continuing their good work on environmental protection and LEAF is delighted with this result.
The Mid Tier CS scheme offers 5-year agreements for environmental improvements to the wider countryside, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the environment for birds, pollinators and farm wildlife. The many farmers that have applied for Mid Tier application packs will now be issued with maps and the evidence requirements needed to develop applications and submit them to Natural England by the deadline of 30 September.
Dr Alastair Leake, Head of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Allerton Project farm in Leicestershire said:
The previous Stewardship scheme was a massive success with 70% of land area included in an agreement. This was a significant achievement and it is reassuring that so many farmers are now expressing interest in the Mid Tier scheme. However, this new scheme is more competitive and targeted and it is vital that farmers read the scheme guidance and seek the right advice in order to complete these applications successfully. This will make a difference to the final outcome, as well as being better for the environment and British farming. Just don’t miss the deadline.
The closing date for submitting completed Mid Tier applications together with all supporting evidence is Friday 30 September 2016. Natural England is also running a series of one-to-one clinics in various locations to support customers with their Mid Tier applications. See the Mid Tier advice clinics page for more details.
Top tips for completing a CS application form
To help ensure that Natural England can process your CS application as quickly and accurately as possible please make sure that you:
- Double check that you`ve completed the form correctly, use the checklist on page 13.
- Make sure that you`ve included all the relevant Single Business Idenitifiers and vendor numbers.
- Make sure that you have provided the evidence required to support the options you have chosen. Details of the evidence required are available on the ‘keeping records section’ for each CS option.
- Where applicable don`t forget to submit the completed Historic Environmental Farm Environment Record (referred to as ‘HEFER’).
- Check that you (and any partners) have signed the form.
- If you have any questions about completing the form contact your agent, Natural England or book a place at one of the Mid Tier clinics that Natural England is running.
- Submit your application with all supporting evidence to Natural England by 30 September.