Hedgerows and boundaries grant applications invited
Applications are being invited for the Countryside Stewardship hedgerows and boundaries grant which opens today (1st February 2017).
The grant, individually worth up to £5,000, is designed to help farmers and other land managers improve important farmland boundaries and the application window for the £5 million scheme closes on 28th April.
Farmers can apply for a one-off grant towards the restoration of a range of traditional boundaries including hedgerows, dry stone walls, stone-faced banks and earth banks – nearly 800 applicants were successful last year.
Payment rates are fixed for each item. These include hedge-laying or coppicing, hedgerow restoration through gapping-up, stone-faced bank repair and stone wall restoration, which can include a top wiring supplement.
Guy Thompson, chief operating officer of Natural England, says: “Hedgerows, dry stone walls and earth banks are a quintessential part of the English countryside. Not only do they perform a vital agricultural role in protecting crops and livestock from the elements, they help support a variety of wildlife. Increasingly farmland boundaries also play a major role in preventing soil loss as well as reducing pollution and flooding. I’m pleased that this grant will help to support these traditional boundaries and the wider benefits that they bring.”
Like the rest of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, the application process is competitive. Applications score more highly if the business has been in a previous Environmental Stewardship agreement or England Woodland Grant Scheme. Priority is given to smaller holdings and restoring hedges or walls is preferred to stone-faced or earth banks. More points are awarded if the application is for more than £1,000, and if the holding is part of a group receiving Facilitation Fund payments.
Grant offers will be made to successful applicants from July 2017.