Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship is very similar to the old style ELS schemes. It is designed to provide environmental benefits at an on-farm level with a range of options that can suit most farming systems.
What do Mid-Tier Stewardship schemes fund?
Grant funding is available for land management practices which protect and enhance the natural environment, particularly those that benefit biodiversity and water quality. Funding is available for either management options or for capital options which are investments in the farm’s infrastructure, or a combination of both.
What sort of options are there?
With Mid-Tier you can apply for as many or as few options as you like and can include annual revenue options as well as capital options. There are 144 different options to choose from but a few of the most commonly used, in our experience, are those listed below:
- Permanent grassland with very low inputs (£95/ha)
- Management of hedgerows (£8/100 m)
- Winter bird food (£640/ha)
- 4 – 6 m buffer on cultivated land (£353/ha)
- Tree surgery (coppicing) £96.50 – £200/tree
- Planting new hedges £11.60/m
- Concrete yard renewal £27.14/sq. m. (high water quality priority areas only)
- Livestock and machinery hardcore tracks £33/m (high water quality priority areas only
The amount of each option that is applied for can be tailored to the specific farm with options chosen to target specific problem areas on farms for example where tree surgery is required or concrete needs renewing.
How do I know which options to choose?
The options you choose will depend on your specific farm, often farmers can be meeting the requirements of the options but not realise they could be getting grant funding for doing so. For example, if you already apply very little inputs to your permanent grassland you could apply to be paid £95/ha for doing so with no change to your existing farming practice. Other options require changes to be made to meet the scheme requirements for example establishing winter bird food however the payment is an incentive for doing so.
There are specific options for grassland and arable farmers so if you are all grassland the arable options won’t apply and vice versa. In addition, there is further eligibility checks to meet for some options for example for water capital options you need to be located within a high water quality priority area and have endorsement.
Often, options can be chosen after reviewing the farming system and by identifying areas of land that may be less productive and could be taken out and put in a scheme. We can advise on what options may work for you so please do contact us.
Do I need to put all of my land in a scheme?
No, unlike previous environmental stewardship schemes you do not need to put your whole farm in an agreement. Instead you can pick and choose fields to put in and are only bound by the agreement on those fields that form the ‘agreement land’.
Are there any restrictions of putting land into a Stewardship scheme?
In addition to meeting the requirements of the specific options, any land that is put into an agreement will be subject to every other year hedgerow cutting.
How much will I be paid?
Each option has a payment rate so put simply, the more of each option you have then the more you will be paid.
What is the difference between Mid-Tier and Wildlife Offers?
The key differences between the two schemes are:
- Mid-Tier is a competitive application process, however Wildlife Offers are not.
- With Mid-Tier you can include capital items which you cannot with Wildlife Offer agreements.
- Mid-Tier enables more flexibility on how much of each option you choose, with Wildlife Offers you need to put certain %’s of your land into the scheme to be offered a scheme.
What sort of capital options could I include in my Mid-Tier agreement?
Options that are ‘capital options’ are those such as hedge planting, tree surgery (coppicing), fencing and stone wall restoration. Also classified as ‘capital options’ which you must be located within a high water quality area in order to be eligible are concrete yard renewal, livestock and machinery tracks, roofing over slurry stores and rainwater goods.
How long do Mid-Tier Agreements last?
All Mid-Tier agreements last for 5 years with any capital works included within the agreement needing to be completed and claimed for within the first 2 years.
What are the key dates and deadlines?
The deadline for requesting endorsement for water capital items and certain high value items is 31st May 2020.
The deadline for requested Mid-Tier application packs is 30th June 2020.
The deadline for submission of Mid-Tier applications is 31st July 2020.
The start date for any successful applications made this year is the 1st January 2021.
I’m interested in applying, how can you help?
If you’re located within the Three Counties then please do get in touch with one of our Countryside Stewardship team and we can guide you through the application process including help choosing suitable options and putting applications together. To discuss Countryside Stewardship further then please contact Ellen Cottrell or Amelia Sheldon either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com) or on 01684 853400.