STAFF at an Oswestry-based land agent says farmers and land managers should consider applying for an improved countryside scheme as an effective means of moving forward.

Edward Page, who has recently joined Davis Meade Property Consultants in Beatrice Street, feels industry professionals should adopt the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme as the best way to move towards the government’s future Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme.

Mr Page says the new CS scheme is easier to apply for and will provide funding for environmental work, such as restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands.

He said: “Farmers should apply for CS even if they haven’t considered it before as it paves the way for the government’s new approach to farm support which will reward land managers for producing public goods such as better air and water quality and improved countryside access.

"A national ELMs pilot will be rolled out next year with the scheme expected to be fully operational by the end of 2024, as area-based payments continue to be phased out.

“Defra says no one in a CS agreement will be unfairly disadvantaged when we transition to new arrangements under ELM. Rural businesses should consider these schemes as a means of reducing the impact on the Basic Payment Scheme transition which starts for certain claimants from 2021.”

Countryside Stewardship now offers four simpler and quicker to apply for wildlife offers to complement the higher tier and mid ier offers and all valid applications for any of the four new wildlife packages (for arable, lowland grazing, upland, and mixed farming) will be guaranteed funding.

The Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) partnership can support applications for Mid Tier capital grants to improve water and air quality in high priority areas. Some capital items require written support from a CSF Officer so if your holding is in a High Water Quality Priority Area, contact your local CSF Officer for advice by May 31.

Applications for CS close on July 31, 2020. Apply online or request an application pack in the post by contacting Rural Payments Agency by May 31, 2020.