15 December 2017
Is your Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation application ready for submission on the 2 Jan 2018?
Read in full with links here
Woodland Creation via Countryside Stewardship Opens soon
Two weeks until you can submit your application
Have you started working on your Woodland Creation application yet? You have just less than two weeks before you can submit your application on the 2 January 2018. For more information and to download your application form see the Woodland Support page on GOV.UK.
You could get 80% of the standard cost of capital items for planting and protecting new woodland, capped at £6800 per hectare. In 2018 we are offering 40% of actual costs for forest roads and tracks.
We have put together a Q&A which provides an overview of what’s new for 2018.
You can submit your applications from the 2 January to 16 February 2018.
Changes to Natural England Technical Services
From the 15 December the Technical Services team in Crewe will take on oversight of delivery of the woodland schemes and some woodland elements of Countryside Stewardship will be centralised there. This includes initial processing of new applications for Woodland Creation Grant. Technical Services will redirect applications to its Crewe office to ensure they can be processed as quickly as possible. To assist with this please send all applications for Woodland Creation to the Crewe office:Natural England, PO Box 380, Crewe, CW1 6YH. Tel: 0208 026 1805 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have an application or claim currently with Technical Services please continue to liaise with them through your normal routes.
Woodland Creation in the News
We have recently given consent under the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations for a large scale woodland creation project to go ahead at Doddington North Moor in Northumberland. This 350 hectare site will be the largest new planting site in over 30 years, you can find out more in our press release.
We have also recently awarded a Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant to support a 170 hectare planting scheme in the Lake District on the Lowther Park Estate, Confor have a news article that tells you more.
Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier
Higher Tier Woodland Improvement update
We have a total of 273 Woodland Improvement applications proceeding to agreement for January 2018 start date (220 woodland only and 53 mixed woodland and agri-environment). We will send letters to update customers who haven’t yet received their agreement before the end of December.
Higher Tier 2018 dates confirmed
On Tuesday 28 November the Secretary of State (SoS) announced four new simplified offers under Countryside Stewardship’s Mid-Tier scheme. While the announcement focused on Mid-Tier this was the first time the opening dates for 2018 applications have been made public and we can now confirm the dates for Higher Tier in 2018 will be:
15 January 2018 - publication of the manual and opening of the application window
9 March 2018 - Deadline to request an application pack
13 April 2018 - Deadline to submit initial application
For more information check our Woodland Support pages on GOV.UK in the new year.
Send in your draft Woodland Management Plans
We need to have your draft management plans for approval in by the end of December if you are interested in applying for Higher Tier Woodland Improvement next year (agreements to start 1 January 2019).
CS Capital agreements and claim deadlines
Do you have a capital agreements under Countryside Stewardship? If so then it’s important to remember that you have 2 years to complete your capital work and a maximum of 3 months to claim after the end of the agreement as no amendments are possible.
What else is on offer for Woodland Creation?
HS2 Woodland Fund – prepare your applications and book on to our webinar
We look forward to receiving HS2 Woodland Fund (HS2WF) applications in early January 2018 – please continue to prepare your applications and contact your Woodland Officers now. This £1 million fund that supports the creation of native broadleaf woodland between 1ha and 25ha (depending on whether it connects existing woodland), as well as the restoration of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS). There is no closing date, RLR registration is not required and BPS payments can be retained (subject to eligibility) for up to 10 years.
We are hosting a 1 hour customer webinar at 9:00am on 9 January 2018. Please submit questions in advance to email@example.com and register here to attend the webinar.
Woodland Carbon Fund and Woodland Creation Planning Grant open all year round
The Woodland Carbon Fund (WCF) and Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) remain open year round. Speak to your Woodland Officer about receiving up to £30,000 to design a productive woodland of 10 ha or more via WCPG, or up to £8,500 per hectare (in Priority Places) for creating a productive woodland of 10 ha or more via WCF.
Did you know…..?
- You don’t have to currently own or have management control over the land you want to plant in order to apply for WCPG
- Completing a WCF application form takes less than three hours and expressions of interest can receive an in principle decision from FC within one month
- Neither WCF nor WCPG require RLR registration to apply
- WCF agreement holders can keep BPS payments (subject to eligibility) for up to 10 years
- Minimum application sizes for WCPG and WCF can include existing woodland, subject to conditions. Speak to your Woodland Officer if you think your land may be eligible
- WCF now includes payments for forest roads and a year 5 second stage capital payment for achieving successful establishment
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) what the changes mean for you?
Don’t forget that the requirements for EIA decisions on forestry projects (creation, deforestation and/or infrastructure) were updated in spring of 2017.
The principle change introduced to EIA is the requirements to obtain relevant environmental information, and to undertake local stakeholder engagement and use the information and comments collected to aid planning and designing your forestry project.
This evidence and an outline of how you have used it to improve the environmental credentials of your project should then be used to support your application for an EIA decision and / or grant funding.
Woodland Creation Planning Grant can be used to help obtain relevant information and with undertaking the design process of creation projects prior to seeking an EIA opinion. If you apply for an EIA opinion for your project prior to completing the design stage, you will not be eligible for the woodland creation planning grant.
You can find revised EIA regulatory information and projects guidance on our EIA webpage and can download the relevant EIA enquiry form for you EIA project. Here are a few tips to help you understand what you will need to provide:
If you are making a Woodland Creation grant application for Countryside Stewardship or HS2 Woodland Fund, you will find that the EIA questions are already incorporated into the grant form – no need to complete a second EIA form. The Woodland Carbon Fund requires a draft or approved woodland creation design plan, or confirmation of an FC EIA screening decision to be submitted alongside the application form
If your project is for deforestation or infrastructure, you will need to download the relevant Enquiry Form
For deforestation projects, if your proposal is not within a statutory site e.g. SSSI, then you must provide compensatory planting to mitigate for the loss of woodland cover on the project site
Consultation on Wildlife Licence Charges – have your say…
You need a wildlife licence from Natural England if you plan to disturb or remove wildlife or damage habitats.
Natural England undertakes this licensing work, and is proposing to introduce charges for the statutory assessment and issue of wildlife licences.
They are inviting your views about the way they fund the wildlife licence service in the future, and want to ensure this service offers value for money for licence applicants and the taxpayer and achieves good outcomes for wildlife.
The consultation is seeking your views on:
- the proposal to charge for wildlife licences
- the charging structure
- the proposed exemptions from charging.To give your views, please complete your response.
The consultation closes on 5 February 2018.
Legacy Annual Claims – first payments have already been made
We are pleased to be able to tell you that payments for 17/18 annual legacy claims have been released from the 4 December. 90% of all claims that were able to be paid have been approved and beneficiaries should see payments landing in their accounts in early December. We worked closely with RPA Inspectorate to achieve this target ensuring that all FC woodland legacy inspections had been started by 30 November this is a regulatory requirement that has to met before we can start payments.
End of year capital claims for Legacy Grants
In early January 2018 we will be reminding EWGS agreement holders to complete any works identified for payment in the 2017/18 claim year. Your completed claim form must be with your Administrative Hub before the 31 March 2018 to ensure payment. Late claims will not be paid unless there are exceptional circumstances. Agreements can no longer be amended to move work into a later year so it is very important to complete and claim work as set out in your agreement. Look out for your letter or talk to your agent.
Agreements affected by HS2
Some of our legacy agreements have been affected as a result of the HS2 ‘Notices of Possession and Access’. We have written to all agreements holders within a buffer of the project route to remind them that that the FC will be required to recover any grant on areas impacted by the HS2 rail development unless they invoke the ‘force majeure’ clause within their agreement. If you have not received a letter and you understand that an area that has received grant aid from the FC may be affected by the development, please contact your Administrative Hub.
News on other RDPE grants
Improving Forestry Productivity Grants
The RPA under the Countryside Productivity Scheme are offering grants to fund projects that improve forestry productivity through felling, extraction and adding value by primary processing of timber products. Only private forest holders managing at least 10 hectares of forest and micro, small or medium-sized forestry contractor businesses can apply for this grant. For more information guidance and application forms see GOV.UK.