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Countryside Stewardship

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that some of the Countryside Stewardship revenue payment rates have increased with effect from 1st January 2023. Where applicable, the higher revenue payment rate will be for both applications received in 2023, as well as revenue agreements which started on or before 1st January 2023.

Payment rates for capital Countryside Stewardship items have also been updated in line with current costs. The increased payment rates only apply to agreements which start 1st January 2023 onwards but there is the option to withdraw capital items from earlier schemes and reapply. Farmers will now have three years to complete and claim for capital works rather than two. Applications for new Capital Grant only schemes can now be made all year round so anyone considering applying should start looking at the application process.

Both Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier and Higher-Tier Schemes will continue to be offered to applicants for agreements starting on 1st January 2024, with applications opening February/March 2023. It has also been announced that Defra will replace the proposed Local Nature Recovery Scheme with an enhanced Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This scheme will be known as Countryside Stewardship Plus and will provide payments in relation to carbon and biodiversity. Further details are yet to be released, but there are likely to be up to around 30 additional actions available to farmers under this new scheme by the end of 2024.

Sustainable Farming Incentive

2022 saw the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) Scheme, with land managers able to apply to enter their land into three standards, being Arable & Horticultural Soils, Improved Grassland Soils and Moorland.

In 2023, there will be new standards launched under SFI, as detailed below:

Additionally, a new SFI Management Payment is being introduced. This payment will be for £20 per hectare, for up to 50 hectares of land entered into the SFI scheme, so a maximum payment of £1,000. The payment is aimed towards encouraging smaller farms to take advantage of the financial incentives that SFI could provide. This management payment will not be offered to those who already participate in the SFI pilot programme. Currently, there are no further details as to when the Management Payment will be applied or available.

Landscape Recovery

The Landscape Recovery Scheme falls under the umbrella of Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) and is for large scale projects which look to undertake significant habitat restoration and land use change. The first round of applications has now closed but there will be a second round of applications opening later this year.

Innovation and Productivity Grants

It is expected that the next round of the Farm Equipment and Technology Fund, for small grants between £2,000 and £25,000, will be launched in spring 2023.

These latest announcements made by Defra provide much of the information we’ve been waiting for to allow farmers to plan future schemes, although there are still further details to be announced. We’d encourage all farmers to look at the various schemes and consider which work best for their farm to ensure opportunities are not missed.

If you would like one of our team to undertake a review please do get in touch. For more information or to find out how our Rural Property & Business department can help you please contact 01234 352201 or 01280 428010 or email bedford@robinsonandhall.co.uk  

Over the last three years, we have seen a growing trend of landowners being approached by developers looking to develop new garden villages. These garden villages are often within the open countryside on land that we would not normally consider suitable for development as it is not adjoining any major settlement.

The garden village concept is for these communities to be self-servicing, with a local service centre, and to vary between 1,000 and 3,000 houses. The area of land required is significant at 200 to 600 acres per village and we have noticed a trend towards being close to a train station and/or good road connection.

The garden village concept therefore offers huge opportunities to landowners to gain the benefit of development proceeds, whilst also creating a development that they can be proud of with a focus on place making and designed with the community in mind.

The first few developments using this new concept have now received planning permission and the house builders, in particular the large PLCs, like the concept due to them being able to provide a significant housing number over the long term. The advantage to the local councils is that it provides the opportunity to locate housing away from further expansion on the edges of existing conurbations.

With the continued need for new housing sites and the Government preparing its Strategic Framework for the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, we are already involved in negotiations for a significant number of garden village sites and expect to see further proposals come forward through the planning system.

If you are a landowner and are approached about a new garden village development, please do consider it carefully and discuss it with us at an early stage. The development of such land may feel farfetched but it may now be far more likely than it once was.

Should you have any questions then please contact Andrew Jenkinson, Partner and Rural Chartered Surveyor, on 07967 964508 or email abrj@robinsonandhall.co.uk