MIDDLE TIER APPLICATIONS

This scheme is open to all ELS agreement holders who have agreements which expire this year, the new scheme is competitive and all applications will be scored by Natural England.  Successful applications will be informed by mid-November for a start date of 1 January 2016.  Natural England wants to address widespread environmental issues such as water pollution, improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and wild pollinators.  Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Packages applied to the land need to cover between 3 – 5 % of your holding.

A list of options can be found at https://www.gov.uk/countryside-stewardship-grants.  You can find which options are available, payment rates, double funding issues and basic management of the prescriptions.  The new prescriptions seem more stringent than those under Environmental Stewardship.  Natural England are more focused on keeping records and producing evidence  for some of the new prescriptions and this evidence will need to be submitted with the annual claim form.

All agreement holders with Environmental Stewardship Agreements that expire up to 31 December 2015 are encouraged to apply for a Countryside Stewardship application well in advance of 30 September 2015.  Agreements expiring during 2016 will be eligible to apply when Natural England open their application window which is anticipated to be early in 2016.  Agreement holders are reminded this is a discretionary scheme with no guarantees that any application will be successful as funding remains limited.

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