Our Farm Advisory Service was originally set up in 2006 to provide assistance to those looking at Entry and Higher Level Stewardship either as new claimants or because their previous ESA or CSS agreements had expired.
The details of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme, replacing these, have finally been announced with mid-tier, higher tier and small boundary capital grants – it also incorporates, among other items, woodland and the former Catchment Sensitive Farming schemes.
All agreements will start on 1 January, no matter when your old one expired so, in most cases, there will be a gap when you receive no payments. There are currently only very limited circumstances in which early closure of an existing scheme would be allowed.
The new scheme has fewer options, particularly for the livestock and grassland sectors, and it is competitive so there is no guarantee that your application will succeed, as was the case with ELS if you exceeded the points target. Another major difference is that the new scheme is based on individual fields which offer the targeted option rather than the whole farm so payments are likely to be lower than ELS.
Details of the boundaries capital grant scheme should be available for 2016.