Here’s a quick Q&A style update regarding the UK Government’s Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme for 2023. Find out what’s new, what you can apply for, what’s excluded, and what you need to do to claim your capital funds.
When is the Countryside Stewardship scheme open?
The CS scheme opened on 5th January 2023, and will remain open until all the funding has been allocated.
Which projects are eligible?
The CS scheme will fund projects in four basic categories:
- boundaries, trees, orchards
- water quality, including fencing against a watercourse or ditch
- air quality, including slurry covers
- natural flood management, including wooden dams
It is worth noting that land in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is now eligible for capital items. An existing CS or Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreement must already cover the land (including those started on 1st January 2023).
What items can I apply for?
Seventy capital items are available across the four groups. You can apply for items from stone-faced bank repairs to sheep netting, and from biofilters to large leaky woody dams. Take a look at the list for help with choosing capital items.
For descriptions and essential requirements for each capital item, see the Countryside Stewardship online grant finder.
What is not eligible for the Countryside Stewardship scheme?
You cannot apply for these capital grants if:
- your land is common or shared grazing land
- certain other schemes or obligations already include this land
- developed land and hard standing (including permanent caravan sites and areas used for permanent storage)
Also, you cannot seek grants for land that contains parcels which already have capital works which are incomplete or have not received their final payment. However, you can apply for options on parcels that have field options within another CS or Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI) agreement.
How many businesses can I apply for?
You can apply for each Single Business Identifier (SBI) that you have control of. However, there are requirements on your control of the land for five years from the CS agreement start date.
Does the Countryside Stewardship scheme impose time limits on funded capital works?
For 2023 applications, agreement holders will have three years to complete capital works.
Countryside Stewardship scheme – what is new for 2023?
Capital items which require support from Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) are now available in High, Medium and Low Priority Areas for Water and Air Quality.
The CS scheme now includes a Natural Flood Management group, offering three capital items – RP31, RP32 and RP33.
For 2023, eligible projects can include any amount of capital items so long as they are for work on eligible projects.
The CS scheme has introduced a new offer, CS Higher Tier Capital Grants, offering three-year agreements for capital items which deliver additional environmental benefits without needing a CS Higher Tier agreement.
Capital items now qualify for land in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, an existing CS or Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreement must cover that land.
Compared with previous years, the Rural Payments service (which processes all applications) will apply more proportionate reductions to claims they receive late. Instead of a 100% reduction for being one day late, they will scale the reduction according to lateness.
How do I apply?
First, make sure you have registered with the Rural Payments service.
Then make sure that you have registered the land parcel you are applying for on the Rural Payments service. If it is not, you will need to fill in forms and make sketch maps, which you’ll send with your application.
Then you can authorise an agent to apply. Alternatively, apply online via the Rural Payments service, following their online Capital Grant application guidelines. You can even apply by post or email, but you will have to do it by filling in a CS Capital Grants application form.
Also, make sure you are financially viable before you apply. The Rural Payments service will check this and will reject applications from businesses they deem financially unviable.
It can get a bit complicated! Why not contact me, Victoria Craig-McFeely, by phone on 07814 184 932 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org for help? I’ll tell you quickly about the ins and outs of this scheme. I can also help you to apply for the money if you like, saving you time and hassle.
Alternatively, fill in the form below and we’ll contact you.
Promar helps over 3,000 farmers a year to become more profitable, sustainable and resilient. Find out more about what we do. We have a team of farm consultants around the country, who are on hand to help you make confident on-farm decisions. People use us as sounding boards, financial aides and assistants to help you make the most of any market situation.