Following on from the launch of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) last month we are now able to see how the application process works in terms of physical paperwork and also get to grips with some of the lesser known compulsory scheme requirements.

On the face of it, the Mid-Tier application paperwork is very similar to that of the old Entry and Higher Level schemes with the need to complete a Farm Environment Record (FER), option maps and option schedules. However, even for the more “popular” options, a CSS application is also likely to need further supporting information which may include:

  • Soil analysis including organic matter ( low input pasture options)
  • Maps of drainage (eg. low input pasture)
  • Photographs of features (various)
  • A Historic Environment Consultation (any historic feature management)
  • Planning permissions
  • Endorsements from Catchment Sensitive Farming officers

Potential applicants should also be aware of the new compulsory scheme requirements which principally include:

  • Land entered into the CSS has a requirement placed on it that no more than 50% of the hedges can be cut in any one year (other than for safety reasons). There are no additional payments for this.
  • Options that limit grazing activity could trigger an average stocking density requirement over the whole farm.

To summarize, if you are interested in applying to the CSS it is important to start preparing the application as soon as possible to allow enough time to get the supporting information together. There will also need to be careful option choices to ensure the best possible application score and also to ensure that the management restrictions are right for the farm.

Please do not hesitate to contact us so that we may assist you in successfully putting together a scheme that works for you and for the environment.