Agri-environment schemes
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Hodgson Rural Consultancy

Agri-Environment Schemes

With the additional pressure that is being placed upon land based businesses to demonstrate environmental credibility, agri-environment schemes may provide the perfect opportunity to meet these requirements whilst also enhancing income streams.

By combining Hodgson Rural Consultancy's knowledge of farming systems and environmental management we can design schemes that are financially viable for the applicant whilst retaining sound ecological benefit. For complex agreements we can oversee the management of the scheme to ensure that all requirements are being met and expensive reclaims are prevented.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme 

The Countryside Stewardship scheme is administered by Natural England and incorporates all levels of agri-environment support, from multi annual agreements to one-off capital items. All applications are competitive and will be scored against national strategy and local targets to ensure that the highest level of environmental gain is achieved. The primary funding streams are:

Mid Tier

Although applications are still competitive this scheme is open to all farmers across England and aims to improve local biodiversity, the historic environment and water quality. Applicants are encouraged to use management options that meet local environmental objectives, particularly those that contribute towards the Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Packages. Each application has to reach a minimum annual value of £1,000 to be considered for the scheme. Capital items to assist with land management options, such as fencing are available in this tier. The scheme has an application window running from 1 June to 30 September each year with agreements starting on the 1 January the following year. The agreement will last for 5 years.

Mid Tier – Organic

Due to the increased environmental benefit that organic farming systems can have, financial support is provided through the Mid Tier scheme, with or without additional management options. This also includes the conversion payment for the first two years of organic registration.

Higher Tier

Entrants to the Higher Tier will typically be invited to apply for the scheme from Natural England when existing Higher Level Stewardship agreements come to a close. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that are currently not managed as part of an HLS scheme will also be a priority for entry into this tier. A large range of land management options and capital works items are available in this scheme and will be selected/tailored to meet the environmental objectives of your holding. The application window is again from 1 June to 30 September each year with agreements starting on the 1 January the following year. Due to the complexity of the applications it is worth contacting Natural England early in the window to ensure that it is submitted in time. Agreements will typically last for 10 years.

Standalone Capital Items

For holdings that are unable to enter into either the Mid Tier or Higher Tier scheme, standalone capital items are available. The choice is limited and will typically be the restoration of boundary features such as hedgerows and stonewalls. The maximum grant value is £5,000 per holding per year and applications should be submitted in the spring of each year.

Water Quality Grants

These items are only available in Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) priority areas and need endorsement from the local catchment officer. A wide range of items are available such as cattle tracks, concreting of yards and roofing over livestock gathering areas; the maximum grant value if £10,000 per holding per year. The application window is 1 March to 30 April each year.

Woodland Grants

There are a number of grants available for woodland management and restoration, either in combination with a Mid Tier/Higher Tier scheme or not. 

Woodland Management Plans - provides financial support for the preparation of a new woodland management plan using the Forestry Commission template. The scheme is available for applications throughout the year with the minimum grant being £1,000. This is an important grant for anybody who is thinking of managing their woodlands for their own firewood or commercially.

Woodland Creation Establishment – this grant is available for the creation of new woodlands and includes a contribution towards the cost of planting of the trees and also the ongoing management for 10 years. The application window is 1 February to 30 April with trees planted the following winter.

Woodland Tree Health and Woodland Improvement – this grant aims to assist applicants with the cost of restocking woodlands following the felling of trees as a result of health issues, such as phytophthora ramorum. Grants are also available for the removal of diseased scrub and Rhododendron. Applications can be submitted throughout the year.

For further advice on any of the above scheme please contact us as we have a wealth of experience in submitting applications that meet the needs of both your enterprise and environmental objectives. We can also assist you with the ongoing management of the schemes to ensure that you are meeting the requirements and do not fall foul of any penalties.

Environmental Stewardship

With our deep understanding of the Environmental Stewardship Schemes we can provide additional support to ensure that they  run smoothly and  in accordance with the management requirements.

  • Whole scheme management
  • Habitat management plans
  • Mid term assessments
  • Presence during RPA inspections
  • Capital works claims
  • Organic conversion certification
  • Appeals against penalties 

Voluntary Measures

For those who do not wish to take part in a formal agri-environment scheme but would like to enhance  the environmental  value of the farm, Hodgson Rural Consultancy can provide  practical and beneficial solutions. Management techniques will be tailored to match the needs of the business whilst taking into account the habitat  requirements for priority species that are known to be in the area.

Contact us

Hodgson Rural Consultancy

27 Dukes Orchard




TEL : 07701 005537