The Countryside Stewardship Scheme

Applications are now open for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The scheme provides financial incentives to eligible farmers, foresters, woodland owners and other land managers to look after and improve their environment.

Applications can be made for:

  • Mid Tier

  • Wildlife Offers

  • Higher Tier

  • Capital grants

  • Woodland support grants

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme is made up of a number of different elements, including Mid Tier Agreement and High Tier Agreement; woodland creation and management; options to help improve wildlife on farms, and grants for boundaries, trees and orchards, water and air quality.

Applications under the scheme are made to the Rural Payments Agency.

With Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments beginning to reduce this year and with BPS payments being phased out between 2021 and 2027, the first payments under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme should begin to be received at the end of 2022. The new Environmental Land Management Scheme will also be introduced.

Manuals are available to explain the scheme rules, including who can apply and what land is eligible, together with how to apply guides to help with applications.

Mid Tier and Wildlife Offers applications are open from 9 February 2021 to 30 July 2021. Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier (including Wildlife Offer) will commence on 1 January 2022. An application pack may be requested online, using Rural Payments service, until 30 June 2021.

Under the Mid Tier Scheme, rural grants and payments may be made to support activities that support the local environment. This particular route offers a wide range of management options and capital grants. An application may be made for a combination of grants that are most relevant to your particular business and local environment. Grants are available as two year grants for specific capital works, and multi-year grants where payments are made every year for five years. Most applications are competitive, meaning they will be scored and ranked. An agreement will be offered to successful applicants and, if accepted, the Countryside Stewardship Agreement will start on 1 January 2022. Payment amount depends on the options and capital items chosen and compliance with the agreement.

Grants are available as management options and capital items.

Management Options:

  • Manage land for the benefit of local wildlife

    Providing sources of nectar and pollen for insect pollinators

    Providing winter food and nesting habitats for farmland birds

  • Support local priority habitats such as:

    Species-rich grasslands;

    Wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds and ditches;

    Hedges, orchards, wood pastures and parklands

  • Manage flood risk in your local area

  • Convert and manage land to organic certification standards

  • Manage and maintain landscape features, such as maintaining traditional farm buildings and maintaining Sites of Special Scientific Interest and scheduled monuments.

Capital Grants

Capital grants are available to help manage and maintain boundaries on your land including hedgerows and dry stone walls, manage water and air pollution and improve water quality in a high water quality priority area.

Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package (WPFWP)

This package is separate from the Wildlife Offers. It helps to provide farmland wildlife with the things they need to thrive and breed successfully.

The Wildlife Offers

There are four Wildlife Offers to choose from. Choose this route for a wide range of management options focusing on providing habitats for farm wildlife. This is the quickest and easiest way to apply for the Mid Tier. It is also non-competitive, which means you just have to meet minimum eligibility requirements for the offer.

Wildlife Offers help to provide:

  • Sources of nectar and pollen for insect pollinators

  • Winter food for seed-eating birds

  • Improved habitats, particularly for farmland birds and pollinators

Receive an annual payment each year for 5 years.

Apply online for a Wildlife Offer using the Rural Payments Service until 30 July 2021.

For Higher Tier applications, initial applications are open from 9 February 2021 to 30 April 2021. The Higher Tier covers more environmentally significant sites, commons and woodlands.

Applications may be made for capital grants. There are 67 standalone capital items within three groups:

  • Boundaries, trees and orchards

  • Water quality

  • Air quality

The aim is to protect and enhance the natural environment by increasing biodiversity, boosting habitats and improving water and air quality.

The following woodland support grants are available all year:

  • Woodland creation and maintenance grant

  • Woodland management plan grant

  • Woodland tree health grant

The Higher Tier also provides grants for woodland management.

Source: GOV.UK: Wildlife Offers: Countryside Stewardship (updated 22 February 2021)