Countryside Stewardship Grants Open for 2023 Agreements

England’s farmers, foresters and land managers can now apply for various funds under the 2023 Countryside Stewardship scheme to help them protect the environment.

The next application window for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme is now open, providing a chance for more farmers and land managers in England to prepare for the future and receive payment for environmental work, alongside sustainable food production.

Through CS, farmers can apply for funding to improve their local environment – from restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands to managing flood risk.

Since January this year, Defra has increased Countryside Stewardship rates by an average of 30% and, following close work with industry, changes have been made to broaden the scheme and make it easier to apply.

Simplifications have included introducing online applications for the Mid Tier Scheme to make the process simpler, allowing application for CS Capital Grants to be made all year round giving farmers more time to apply, and changes to a number of management options to help increase environmental benefits.

Farmers and land managers who are new to taking on environmental work or with expired or expiring Environmental Stewardship agreements can apply for:

  • Higher Tier: These are five or 10-year agreements to manage complex land in environmentally significant sites, commons or woodlands which require support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission. Deadline: 29 April 2022.
  • Mid Tier: Five-year agreements offering a range of options for continued land management such as the management of species-rich grassland, and for specific environmental works such as installing fencing. Deadline: 29 July 2022.
  • Wildlife Offers: To help farmers and land managers protect wildlife and preserve the natural environment. They include the Arable Offer, the Lowland Grazing Offer, the Mixed Farming Offer and the Upland Offer. Deadline: 29 July 2022.
  • Capital Grants: For specific environmental works on land, covering hedgerows, trees, orchards and to improve air and water quality. Capital items include activities such as fencing installation and tree planting. Open all year.
  • Protection and Infrastructure: This is a new standalone capital grant made up of a two-year capital grant under which applicants can apply for support to create FY2 (Woodland Infrastructure). Open all year.
  • Implementation Plan (PA1) and Feasibility Study (PA2) grants: to provide funding for more complex agreements and projects. Open all year.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said:

‘I see Countryside Stewardship as a bridge to Local Nature Recovery and I urge farmers to get involved. We want to incentivise farmers to enhance the natural environment alongside sustainable food production – from restoring wildlife habitats and woodland management, to preserving the character of our beautiful countryside.’

(This report was the subject of a GRANTfinder Newsflash.)