DEFRA have announced a series of payment and scheme changes for Countryside Stewardship agreements (see here for full details).
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Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue payment rates
Defra has reviewed and updated Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue payment rates based on current costs. The new revenue rates will be introduced for all new and existing Mid Tier and Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship agreements from 1 January 2023.
Where the 2023 rate has increased, the higher revenue payment rate will be paid on:
- revenue agreements starting on or before 1 January 2023
- applications received in 2023
Some payment rates have not changed, therefore your rate will remain the same as the 2022 payment rate. No revenue payment rates have decreased.
Countryside Stewardship (CS) capital payment rates
Defra has reviewed and updated Countryside Stewardship (CS) capital payment rates based on current costs.
The increased rates will apply to capital agreements applied for on or after 5 January 2023. Capital payment rate changes will apply to new Countryside Stewardship agreements only and not to existing agreements.
In addition, the duration of agreements has increased for those that start on or after 5 January 2023. Agreement Holders will now have 3 years to complete the capital works in their agreement, so there is less pressure to complete actions straight away.
Furthermore DEFRA have made it so that land in a SSSI is now eligible for capital items if the land is already covered by an existing Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreement.
To encourage public access, eligibility for several items has been expanded to encourage their use within a woodland setting. Changes have also been included to support the management of mature trees and flood management.
Capital items which require support from Catchment Sensitive Farming are now available in High, Medium and Low Priority Areas for Water and Air Quality.
The maximum amount allowable for a single application to £80,000, with a limit of £20,000 for each of these groups:
- Boundaries, Trees and Orchards
- Water Quality
- Air Quality
- Natural Flood Management
Sustainable Farming Incentive Management Payment
DERFA are also introducing a new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) Management Payment of £20 per hectare, for up to 50 hectares of land entered in the scheme. This means farmers will receive up to £1,000 per year in addition to their agreement to cover the administrative costs of participation.
Further information about when and how the Sustainable Farming Incentive Management Payment will be applied in due course. It will not apply the increase to those in the pilot programme as they receive a payment of £5,000 a year for participating in learning activities.