Natural England are now receiving applications to the new Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant scheme. The scheme will be open annually and the application window for 2016 shuts on 30th April 2016.
Eligible farmers can apply for one-off grant funding for the restoration of hedgerows and stone walls. The grants are to repair and restore rather than for creating new boundary features. Example grant rates include Hedgerow laying at £9.40 per metre and gapping up at £9.50 per metre with additional supplements for top binding and staking or casting up. Stone wall restoration offers £25 per metre with additional supplements including the purchase of stone from a quarry of £44 per metre.
Eligibilty to apply for the scheme is limited to those who are not in any ELS, HLS or Countryside Stewardship agreement on the 1st July 2016. In addition any land parcels to be entered must be in the applicants’ full control for a minimum of 2 years from the agreement start date. Features repaired or restored under the grant are required to be kept according to the works specification for 5 years from the start date of the agreement.
Like all Countryside Stewardship scheme grants, the application process is competitive and there is only a limited pot of money to go around. Natural England will be “scoring” applications in order to select the best proposals to offer agreements to.
Mike Cluley of Carver Knowles commented “the scoring system used by Natural England will favour smaller farmers who have been in an agri-environment scheme in the past. It will also favour the restoring hedges or walls over stone-faced or earth banks.
“More points are awarded if the application is for over £1000, and also if the holding is linked to a group receiving Facilitation Fund payments”
Mike adds “with the priority for funding hedges and walls, there is a significant opportunity for farmers in the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire areas to make use of this grant”.
“What is clear is that in order to have the best chance of securing funding under the scheme you should make the application as strong as possible”.
If you would like further information on the scheme or would like assistance in putting together a strong application please contact Mike Cluley.