The application window for Countryside Stewardship (CS) opened on 11 February 2020. The deadline to request a mid-tier and wildlife offer application pack for the 2020 CS application window is 31 May for requests made by email or telephone and 30 June for requests made online. The application deadline is 31 July.
The deadline for requesting a higher tier CS application pack is 31 March, with an application deadline of 1 May. The 1 May deadline also applies for applications for hedgerows and boundaries grants.
New mid-tier and higher-tier agreements will commence on 1 January 2021. Hedgerows and boundaries agreements will be offered from July 2020 and will start from the first day of the following month and will be for 2 years.
Defra says that CS will offer a stepping-stone to the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS). ELMS will replace CS from 2024 and will be the mechanism through which farmers will receive public money for public goods instead of the BPS. The cuts in the BPS payments will start in 2021 and will be phased out completely by 2027.
On 11 February 2020, before his promotion to Secretary of State on 13 February, George Eustice said “we are guaranteeing that anyone who joins our new scheme in the future will be able to leave their CS agreement early in order to do so.”
Given that guarantee, and the start of the phasing out of BPS payments from 2021, we are advising all our clients who are not already in a stewardship agreement, or whose agreements will expire in 2020, to apply for a new CS agreement this year.
If you require more information or would like assistance with preparing an application please contact us on 01884 212380 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org