Countryside Stewardship – A Simplification Of The Common Folkore

There are a number of misunderstandings that the new Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme is to complex and there are too many hoops to jump through, below explains a number of misconceptions.

Only land in SSSI’s or previous HLS agreements will be offered a claim

This is not true – The Countryside Stewardship is open to all eligible farmers and land managers, it is more competitive than the previous Environmental Stewardship scheme and more targeted. All applications are assessed in a competitive scoring process, grants are offered to those who will achieve the most for their local environment.

Thousands of photos of my land must be submitted

This is not true – A proportion of agreement holders will be requested to take photographs as part of an annual sample. For Capital Grants, ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos will be required as evidence.

Soil sampling is required at a cost with no guarantee of being offered an agreement

This is true but Defra and Natural England are currently looking at making changes to when the soil sampling results need to be submitted, some options do require samples prior to an agreement being offered.

There will be more inspections under the CS compared to ELS & HLS

This is not true – the inspection requirements are the same for Environmental Stewardships and the CS.

CS guidance is too complex

DEFRA have made improvements to CS guidance material this year so applicants have better information to help them with their agreements. An industry group has reviewed this guidance to make it better focussed on farmers’ and advisers’ needs.

Carys Studley of Rostons stated “A number of famers and land managers were put off applying for the CS due to the complexity and the tight time scales. A number of claimants did not wish to incur the costs of soil samples with no guarantee of being offered an agreement. The 2017 application window has now opened and I am sure due the current downturn agricultural sector, some farmers may welcome extra income, however the options must be viable for modern farming practices to continue”

For further information contact the Rostons office on 01829 773000