Details of the new Countryside Stewardship grants, which will be combine the old Environmental Stewardship and Woodland Grant Schemes, are beginning to be released. Last week an interim scheme was announced to cover three main areas of activity:
1. Woodland Planning Grants
2. Tree Health Grants
3. Grants for Woodland Creation
The new woodland creation grants are generous, but only available for landowners planning to plant 3 hectares (7.4 acres) or more. They include maintenance payments of £200 per hectare for ten years, which were not available in the last scheme, but mirror in some ways the previously very popular Farm Woodland Premium Scheme.
More details and forms are available from the government web-site at https://www.gov.uk/woodland-capital-grants-2015-choose-options
1. Woodland management plans. The minimum area of woodland is 3 hectares, as before. An interesting development is that the Forestry Commission will be looking for an agreed plan before committing to any other grant support on a wood, so for some this now becomes an essential first step. Applications should be accepted at any time, although the interim scheme runs until 30th June.
Grant rates are £20 per hectare, for the first 100 hectares, then £10 per hectare for additional area, with a minimum payment of £1,000.
2. Woodland Tree Health
This provides support for landowners with Phytophthora ramorum in larch or Chalara fraxinea in ash. The Forestry Commission have to confirm infection in all cases. It offers payment for felling of immature larch, and in some cases removal of rhododendron that is a potential carrier of the disease. Also, both ash and larch sites eligible for replanting grants, on the same basis as woodland creation.
Immature larch clearance: from £260 per hectare
Rhododendron clearance: from £2800 per hectare (measured rhododendron)
Replanting grant rates: as for woodland creation
3. Woodland creation
Schemes must be over 3 hectares, and applications will be subject to a scoring system, aimed to favour biodiversity and flood management. The scoring system favours native broadleaves, and the target is to plant an additional 2000 hectares of new woodland every year. Initial applications for planting next winter must be with the Forestry Commission by 30th April, so if you want to consider a big planting scheme, you need to act promptly!
The basic grant is £1.28 a tree, with a maximum £6,800 per hectare, including fencing and any shelters. Plus ten annual maintenance payments of £200 per hectare.
Other grants will be announced in due course. Grant rates will be very similar to the old Environmental Stewardship Scheme, and will probably have an annual window for applications during the summer, with grants awarded each autumn.
If you think you may have an eligible scheme, then please send us an e-mail or give us a ring; we would be pleased to help.