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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guide-to-countryside-stewardship-water-capital-grants-2015/guide-to-countryside-stewardship-water-capital-grants-2015
This grant scheme forms part of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme. It builds upon the capital grant scheme within the Catchment Sensitive Farming project.
Farmers and other land managers can apply for a grant to help pay for work to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA).
Applications can be submitted from 2 March 2015 and must be received by Natural England on or before 30 April 2015. Late applications will not be accepted.
The maximum available grant for each farm business is £10,000.
Applications will only be accepted from farms in a priority catchment target area. To find out whether a farm is in a priority catchment target area, see section 2.1.
Applicants can apply for grants to undertake work on their land. Applicants can select from a range of capital items, with defined payment rates for different items.
Capital items are one-off payments towards the cost of certain items or activities, e.g. preventing livestock access to watercourses by erecting watercourse fencing and providing drinking troughs as an alternative to watercourse drinking for livestock.
Before making an application
Advice is available from the local catchment sensitive farming officer (CSFO) who can:
- identify the main opportunities for water quality improvement;
- provide advice on what capital work could be eligible; and
- help with completion of the application.
1.1 Agreement length
A grant agreement will run for a minimum of 5 years. Any capital works funded through this scheme must still be used in the way specified in the grant agreement for at least 5 years after the date of the final payment.
1.2 How applications are selected
The scheme is competitive and applications will be scored and accepted subject to the budget available. Applications are more likely to be successful if they:
- include the high-priority capital items shown on their Funding Priority Statement in their application: see the Funding Priority Statement;
- haven’t previously received a CSF capital grant;
- are working to protect a bathing water in a catchment which is at risk of failing to meet EU standards, for example by putting up watercourse fencing;
- are taking action to protect a Natura 2000 site in their catchment; and
- have received advice from the CSF project in the last 2 years, for example during an on-farm visit or at a CSF workshop.
1.3 What the grant can’t pay for
The grant can’t be used to pay for the cost of:
- normal wear and tear;
- direct replacements (for example to replace an existing building);
- capital works that have already been started on the date the agreement is signed;
- planning application fees or other transactional fees;
- agent fees or other advisory fees;
- meeting legal or industry requirements; or
- employing a civil or structural engineer.
1.4 What can’t be used in construction
Works which are offered grant funding should not use materials in construction which are bought on hire purchase.
However, it is acceptable to use credit cards or money from a previously arranged loan to pay for the work.
It is a condition of the grant scheme that where recycled or existing materials are purchased and/or used, evidence will be required that it:
- meets current Health & Safety legislation;
- has not previously been purchased using public funds, for example, a previous grant;
- is fit for purpose and has at least 10 years life expectancy remaining.
- that the value of any recycled or existing materials used for capital work(s) has been estimated in your claim.
A mix of new and recycled materials is allowable. You should not purchase materials for the grant scheme before you receive an offer of a grant. These will not be considered as recycled or existing materials.
2. Who can apply
Farmers and land managers can only apply if their farm is:
- in a priority catchment target area;
- under their full control for a minimum of 5 years; and
- run by an economically viable small or medium-sized enterprise with fewer than 250 employees, an annual turnover up to 50 million Euros or a balance sheet total up to 43 million Euros (this applies to the company as a whole as well as subsidiaries in and outside the EU).
Applicants will be able to apply for future Countryside Stewardship water grant schemes where they meet the eligibility criteria and provided that capital works are not funded twice (see section 2.7) and that this does not break the terms of their grant agreement (see section 1.1).
Farmers and land managers with existing Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements can also apply for these grants where they meet the scheme criteria.
2.1 Priority catchment target areas
Use Defra’s online tool to check whether a holding is in a priority catchment area by following these steps.
- Open MAGIC Map.
- Click ‘Get started’.
- Check the box to accept the terms and conditions and click ‘OK’.
- Check the ‘Designations’ box in the left-hand column.
- Check the ‘Land-based Designations’ box below it.
- Un-check all the boxes except for ‘Non-statutory’.
- Click the + sign next to non-statutory.
- Un-check all the boxes except for ‘Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme Target Areas (England)’.
- Click the drop-down arrow in the search field at the top.
- Select ‘Postcodes’ enter the postcode and press enter.
The postcode area will be highlighted with a light blue outline. If it has red dots in it, it is in the catchment target area.
Select the information button in the feature tools panel at the top, and then choose the area to confirm that it’s in the catchment target area.
Partnerships can apply for a grant. All partners of the farm business, or their agents, must sign the application form unless one has been authorised to act as a representative. Where the representative is signing the application, all of the applicants must sign the agent’s authority form.
2.3 Tenants, licensees or share farmers
Applicants must have the agreement of their landlord, licensor or the landowner before they apply. A water quality capital grant agreement must not breach the conditions of a tenancy, licence or farming agreement.
The landlord must countersign the application form and agreement letter if the applicant does not have control of the land for the full 5 year agreement e.g. a tenant with a 2 year contract. The landlord must agree to take over the agreement if an applicant no longer has control of the land.
Each landlord or landowner must sign a separate copy of the application form if the land for which a grant is being applied has more than one tenancy, licence or farming agreement.
Landlords can apply for a grant, provided they have their tenants’ consent. Landlords must ensure that both they and their tenant(s) sign the declarations on the application form.
2.5 Land owned by public bodies
If the land is owned or run by a public body, check if it land is eligible for a grant with the local catchment sensitive farming officer (CSFO).
2.6 Multiple farm businesses
Only one application can be made for each farm business. If a business is managed as a single unit, or have the same vendor or Single Business Identifier (SBI) number, they will be treated as one farm business. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will determine if they are separate businesses. They’ll take into account:
- the business structure;
- if the business or any business members have an interest in any other farming business;
- who is farming the land and applying for payment;
- the percentage shareholding; and
- who has ultimate responsibility for long-term and/or day-to-day decisions and transactions between the businesses.
Further information on when multiple agreements can be applied for can be found here.
2.7 Farms receiving other funding
Farmers and land managers can apply for a water grant if they’re claiming the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
Grants can’t be combined with other sources of funding for the same capital works in the same location. Grants also cannot be used for capital works an applicant is required to carry out under other grant schemes such as:
- Environmental Stewardship;
- Countryside Stewardship;
- Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme;
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Aid;
- Woodland Grant schemes; or
- Energy crops.
Applicants must ensure that any work proposed for this grant doesn’t breach the conditions of any other agreement. Natural England will carry out checks to make sure that capital works are not funded twice.
3. Getting consent
Applicants need to check the criteria for each capital item they are applying for to see if any consents are needed.
All relevant consents, permits, exemptions and written advice must be sent to Natural England with the application. In some cases e.g. where planning permission or National Park permission is needed, consents can be sent in later than the closing date for applications, and by 29 May 2015 at the latest. However permission from Natural England must be obtained first and the application must still be submitted by 30 April 2015.
3.1 Environment Agency
Land on river banks
Landowners who own land on the banks of a river or a stream, i.e. riparian land, must check if there are any legal or other restrictions or requirements that are relevant to the proposed works before applying. Any necessary approvals or consents must be submitted with the application. Examples of water-related consents include:
Environment Agency consent
Applicants must get consent from the Environment Agency (EA) if proposing to carry out work which could affect:
- slurry or silage storage systems; or
- main river water flow.
It is essential to speak to the EA if proposing to install capital items which could pollute surface- or ground-water. An environmental permit or exemption may be needed.
Flood defence consent
Applicants may need to get flood defence consent (FDC) if proposing work near a watercourse or within 10 metres of the top of the riverbank. Contact the relevant local authority to check the byelaws in the area.
The EA can issue flood defence consent on main rivers. The local authority or internal drainage board (IDB) can issue flood defence consent on ordinary watercourses. Applicants should allow at least 2 months to get consent.
Find out if the works are near a main river or an ordinary watercourse by contacting the EA. Each local EA, or Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer, office can provide a copy of a main river map.
Ordinary watercourse: definition
An ordinary watercourse is a watercourse which does not form part of a main river, including any:
- sewer (other than a public sewer); and
- passage through which water flows and which doesn’t form part of a main river.
Main river: definition
A main river:
- is a watercourse shown on a main river map as held by the Environment Agency;
- is usually a larger stream or river;
- includes smaller watercourses of local significance;
- can include any structure or appliance that controls or regulates the flow of water in or out of the main river;
- includes watercourses designated in a scheme imposing special charges for drainage works in order to improve agricultural land.
Working in a floodplain
Applicants will need consent for any works within 9 metres of a ditch if the land lies on a floodplain where water levels are controlled by an IDB.
- tracks; or
- new discharges of clean roof water.
Applicants can get a consent application form from their local IDB office.
They must also discuss the application with the local EA office.
3.2 Planning permission
- get planning permission for certain capital items;
- meet all statutory requirements such as building regulations; and
- avoid damaging the countryside or causing pollution.
Proposals must not:
- break byelaws;
- obstruct public rights of way; or
- affect oil or gas pipelines.
Applicants can get informal advice on whether a proposal needs planning consent from the local planning authority. There is also general guidance on planning available.
3.3 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Where land is located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, AONB officers must be consulted on the location of proposed capital items and the materials to be used. Applicants must also consider the work’s impact on the landscape.
3.4 Other consents
Applicants may need to apply for other consents even if they don’t need planning consent.
Consents are likely to be needed if the work affects a:
- Site of Special Scientific Interest;
- National Nature Reserve;
- National Park;
- Scheduled monument;
- Listed building;
- Protected species;
- Registered Parkland;
- Registered Battlefield; or
- Local Nature Reserve.
However, this list is not exhaustive and applicants should check with their Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer that they supply all the relevant consents with their application.
Section 2.1 gives details of how to use MAGIC Map, which shows the designations in an area.
3.5 Making a permanent field boundary change
Applicants must tell the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) about any permanent field changes that they make, for example if they’ve installed:
- fencing that changes the original field boundary;
- hard standing for livestock troughs; or
- concrete yards.
A penalty may be given for declaring too much if the area of these features is not deducted on any Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claim or Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) scheme claim.
4. How to apply
Follow these steps to apply for a water grant:
4.1 Check the proposed work won’t damage environmental features
Check that the work won’t damage features such as:
- landscape; or
- historic environment.
Local CSFOs can help with this and advise what capital work could be carried out and help identify opportunities for water quality improvement.
Assess the environmental impact
Assess the impact of the work on the environment and include the findings with the application.
Consider the impact of the work on environmental features such as traditional farm buildings or bank-side vegetation. For example, if:
- concreting a historic cobbled yard this may damage or destroy historic features;
- fencing watercourses may damage bank side vegetation if it’s no longer grazed.
Reduce the environmental impact
Make sure capital items are placed so they don’t damage historic or archaeological features. These include those shown on the local authority’s historic environment record or an environmental stewardship farm environmental record or a farm environment plan.
Plan the route of new fencing and gateways so that they blend with the landscape and don’t damage historic environmental features.
Consider environmental features when moving stock and vehicles.
Uncultivated land and semi-natural areas
The Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) (No.2) Regulations 2006 protect uncultivated land and semi-natural areas from being damaged by certain types of agricultural work including digging; scraping; draining or any other work that increases the productivity of the land.
Applicants can contact the Environmental Impact Assessment Helpline on 0800 028 2140 for further information. In most cases, Countryside Stewardship water grant options will not alter the status of land in relation to these regulations. If Natural England decides that the work is likely to have a significant impact on the environment, applicants need to apply for consent to undertake this work and submit this with their application form.
4.2 Prepare a map of the land
A map must be included with the grant application. A rural land register (RLR) map from the RPA should be used, but a 1:2500 Ordnance Survey (OS) map or MAGIC map can be used as alternatives.
The map must show the:
- boundary of the farm;
- boundary of the priority catchment if it runs through or is close to the farm;
- location of the proposed capital works (put a cross and write the capital item code next to it and use different colours with a key to show where each capital item is);
- line between where the fence or track begins and ends (if applying for one);
- location of any gates fitted into the fence at the farmer’s own expense;
- OS map reference at the bottom left if there are no numbered OS grid lines; and
- map reference number e.g. SK 1234 5678, for each field that is central or close to the proposed capital works.
If any proposed capital works are situated in the farmyard, a sketch map must also be included showing their layout plan and location. An example is here.
The sketch map will also need to show all the concrete work as well as:
- yard work options;
- inspection pits;
- underground drainage; and
- rainwater goods.
Show the location of any first flush diverters or downpipe filters, as well as the location of the tank(s), if claiming for rainwater goods.
4.3 Authorising an agent
Applicants can complete the application and claim forms themselves, or they can authorise an agent to do it for them.
4.4 Complete and submit the application
Applicants must attach:
- any relevant consents, permissions or exemptions (unless they’re unavailable at this time and approval has been received from Natural England at or before the time of application then to send them by 29 May 2015);
- RLR,1:2500 OS map or MAGIC map showing the location of the holding and each of the proposed capital items;
- a sketch map showing the location of all the work within the farmyard; and
- dated photos of the locations for the proposed capital items showing the condition that will be improved. The photos need to include an identifiable permanent feature. Each photo must be clearly numbered and cross-referenced with a map showing the position the photos were taken from, the number of the photo and an arrow indicating the direction of the shot.
Applicants must include the:
- vendor number;
- ‘single business identifier’ (SBI); and
- County Parish Holding (CPH) number.
Applicants will have these numbers if they’ve previously claimed payments under other Defra or RPA schemes. RPA hold the details and can provide them to applicants over the phone on 0345 603 777.
Complete and sign the application form and submit it to:
CS Water Grant Section Natural England
Nottingham NG2 4LA
5. Choose capital items
Applicants can only claim for capital items shown in this table.
6. After applying
Applicants will find out if they have been successful by 31 July 2015.
Successful applicants will be offered a grant and be sent 2 copies of an agreement letter. Both copies must be signed, one of which is to be returned to Natural England within 20 working days. If the letter is not returned in time, the grant offer will be withdrawn.
If other parties e.g. a landlord or landowner countersigned the application, they must also countersign the agreement letter.
Unsuccessful applicants will be advised in writing why their application was rejected. Applicants have the right to appeal; further details are set out in section 8.7.
6.1 Starting the work
Successful applicants become agreement holders once the signed grant offer letters are received by Natural England. The agreement offer will be withdrawn if any financial commitment is made or any work started before a formal grant offer is received.
Invoices must be dated after the agreement offer was sent. Claims will be rejected and won’t be paid if, on inspection, invoices are dated before an agreement offer was issued.
Using the business’ labour for construction of work
Successful applicants can use their own labour for the construction of their works. They will need to prepare time sheets signed by the employee and employer showing:
- the hourly rate for the labour or farm employee’s labour;
- what work has been undertaken; and
- the date the work was undertaken.
These records must be kept for the 5 years of the agreement and produced on request. They don’t need to be submitted with a claim.
Using the business’ machinery for construction
The business’ machinery and equipment can be used to carry out capital works. Hired machinery or equipment, e.g. a cement mixer, can also be used. Any invoices and records of the machinery used must be retained for the 5 years of the agreement. Records should include:
- dates and times the machinery was used;
- what it was used for; and
- name of the operator.
7. How to get paid
Agreement holders can submit a claim for reimbursement once they’ve completed all of the approved work in accordance with the terms of the grant approval and paid for it in full.
Natural England must receive the claim and supporting information, including photos, by 29 January 2016. Late claims will be rejected.
Payments will be paid directly into the applicant’s bank account by the RPA.
7.1 Submit photos with a claim
Dated photos must be submitted with the claim to show all completed capital works. Photos for the claim must be from the same viewpoint as the ones taken for the application.
For certain capital works dated photos will also need to be taken during construction to show that the minimum specification has been met. The individual guidance for each type of capital work will set out what’s needed.
7.2 Submit livestock numbers if claiming covers for slurry stores (RP29 and RP30)
8. Agreement conditions
Agreement holders can’t change their capital works, or amend their agreement, after they’ve been offered a grant. Capital works must meet all of the following conditions:
- be installed and kept in agricultural use e.g. not changed to an alternative use such as residential or commercial accommodation, until the end of the agreement;
- not be substantially modified, either in what they are or how they are used;
- continue to be used for the purpose for which they were installed;
- be located where they were identified on the map submitted with the application;
- be completed to the standard and timescale set out in the agreement;
- comply with written permits or consents, if necessary;
- comply with health and safety legislation, environmental legislation and the British Standards (copies may be available from a library);
- installed and used in a way that minimises damage to the countryside or historic environment;
- have a minimum design life of 10 years; or
- have a minimum design life of 20 years if they’re covered by The Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage, Slurry, and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended 2013) (SSAFO); and
- be installed in compliance with the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for farmers, growers and land managers (CoGAP) and the Groundwater Protection Code: Use and disposal of sheep dip compounds (if relevant).
8.1 Record keeping
All records relating to the agreement must be retained for the 5 years of the agreement and produced on request. This includes invoices, delivery notes, bank statements, consents etc. Agreement holders don’t need to submit them with their claim.
8.2 Breaching an agreement
Agreement holders will be in breach of their agreement if they don’t comply with the agreement’s conditions. This includes the general rules in this guide and any specific conditions set out in the agreement letter. This could result in the non-payment or recovery of some or the entire grant payable or already paid (possibly with interest and penalties) under the scheme.
Agreement holders are also responsible for anyone acting on their behalf, e.g. contractors carrying out the capital works.
Agreement holders will be in breach if they:
- deliberately withhold any required information, e.g. relevant restrictions on their land;
- refuse to allow access to the land on reasonable notice;
- deliberately fail to be available or to accompany a Natural England or RPA officer on a site visit with reasonable notice;
- provide false or misleading information;
- submit a claim for capital works that are not completed;
- don’t have evidence of how the costs were spent;
- disturb wildlife habitats of protected species, e.g. great-crested newts and bats;
- don’t keep the land in agricultural use;
- remove any capital works without written consent from Natural England; or
- change the use of a capital item, e.g. roofing over an outside yard to turn it into an indoor yard (even when at the applicant’s own expense).
Legislation which governs enforcement of breaches of a 2015 Countryside Stewardship Water Grant agreement includes the Common Agricultural Policy (Control and Enforcement, Cross-Compliance, Scrutiny of Transactions and Appeals) Regulations 2014, Regulation of the Council and Parliament 1306/2013 and the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 809/2014.
Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency or Auditors may inspect capital works at any time during the 5 year agreement. They don’t have to give any notice, but usually they’ll arrange an appointment. Agreement holders will be informed of the results of the inspection usually within 2 months of the inspection. Agreement holders can be prosecuted if they intentionally obstruct inspecting officers.
Natural England also carries out cross checks against other grant schemes to prevent double funding.
Agreement holders may incur penalties in addition to having their money withheld or withdrawn if they are in breach of their agreement. They could also be prosecuted and excluded from receiving support now and for 2 years from the date of the termination of the agreement. In addition, NE/RPA may:
- terminate the grant agreement;
- stop future payments;
- reduce the grant if there’s a difference between the area claimed and the actual measurements; or
- reclaim payments with interest and penalties.
Example of penalties: water course fencing
If water course fencing is being claimed to prevent livestock accessing a river, then the whole length of the watercourse must be fenced off even if agreement holders have to pay for some of this work themselves such as gates.
This means that all work, including any self-funded work to make the watercourse inaccessible to livestock, must be in place before a claim is submitted, whether any livestock are present in the field or not at the time of the claim submission. If there are gaps found in the fence line or gates have not been installed, then the fencing is not fit for purpose and the claim will be reduced.
How much the grant will be reduced by
The grant will be reduced if there’s a difference between the amount claimed and the actual amount.
The claim will be reduced to the actual amount if the difference is no more than 10%.
Example: the claim is £1,000 (£300 fencing and £700 tracks) but the total cost of work completed is £950 (5% shortfall). The claim is reduced to £950.
The claim will be reduced and a penalty will be issued if there is more than a 10% difference between the amount claimed and the actual amount.
Example: the claim is £1,000 (£300 fencing and £700 tracks) and total cost of work completed is £880 (12% shortfall). An additional penalty will be given equal to the 12% shortfall (£120) so the claim is reduced to £760.
Interest on grant repayments
Interest will be charged on repayments if they haven’t been paid within 60 days of the date of the recovery letter from Natural England. It will be charged at 1% above the Bank of England base rate.
8.5 Change of ownership
Agreement holders must write to Natural England as soon as there’s a change of ownership or control on the land.
8.6 Exceptional circumstances (force majeure)
Agreement holders must inform Natural England if part or all of the agreement cannot be continued.
Agreement holders (or a representative), must write within 15 working days from the date when they are unable to continue with the agreement. They need to give the earliest date that they could have informed Natural England (if they can’t do so immediately) and explain the reason for any delay. In exceptional circumstances money already received may not have to be paid back. Exceptional circumstances include if:
- the person who holds the agreement dies;
- the person who holds the agreement is incapacitated and unable to work long-term;
- a large part of the land is taken over by a government agency, and this couldn’t have been anticipated when the agreement was signed;
- livestock buildings on the land are accidentally destroyed;
- the land is affected by a severe natural disaster, including exceptional flooding; or
- all or part of the livestock is affected by an epizootic disease such as Foot and Mouth disease.
Changes to an agreement are not allowed. These events don’t count as exceptional circumstances:
- a water company has already given notice that it will put a pipeline over the land during the agreement;
- the land is being sold as part of a long-term plan to retire from farming;
- management control is lost because the landlord’s circumstances have changed, for example if they’ve died, become incapacitated, decided to sell the land and/or terminate the tenancy; or
- the flooding of low-lying farmland that is regularly flooded during predictable weather conditions.
8.7 How to appeal
An appeal can only be made if:
- the decision was based on an error of fact;
- the decision was wrong in law; or
- the delivery body made a procedural error.
To appeal any decision, please write within 60 days from the date of notification of the decision to the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Water Grant Section Manager, who’ll make sure that the case is investigated and advise on next steps.
Or write to:
CS Water Grant Section
City Link Nottingham NG2 4LA
- The appeal will be dealt with by Natural England advisers.
- If the dispute isn’t resolved, a written explanation will be sent setting out the position and the action, if any, that will be taken.
- If still dissatisfied, appellants can ask for the dispute to be referred to a senior Natural England officer who has not been involved with the case.
Appellants may be asked to set out concerns in writing, within a specified timescale, as part of the referral process. The case will be considered by the officer who will give their view on how to resolve the dispute to the CS Water Grant Section Manager.
8.8 How to complain
To make a complaint please write, within 28 days, to the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Water Grant Section Manager who’ll make sure that the case is investigated and advise on what happens next.
Find more about Natural England’s complaints procedure.
8.9 Publicity requirements
Any applicant that receives funding in excess of €10,000 is required to publicise the funding.
Publicising the scheme while capital work is being carried out
Natural England will give successful applicants an A3 poster to inform the public about the aim of the Countryside Stewardship water grant and its financial support from the EU. This must be displayed at a location visible to the public, such as an entrance to a building.
The contribution of EU funding must be mentioned on the business’ website and a hyperlink to the EU Commission’s Rural Development page included.
Any press releases or marketing material such as leaflets and brochures associated with the project agreement must acknowledge the EU as funder of the project. Publications must contain a clear reference to the EU’s participation and contain the EU’s emblem and this text:
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.
This farm has received European Union funding under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, for infrastructure to help reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture.
How the scheme is funded
The scheme is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).