Farmers and landowners in England have until 1 May to apply for capital grants worth up to £10,000 to help pay for the restoration of hedges and stone walls.
Farmers – both owner occupiers and tenants – should consider making an application to the 2020 Hedgerows and Boundary Grant Scheme.
The scheme falls under the umbrella of Countryside Stewardship, but farmers and landowners can make a standalone application without having to sign up to a more complex five-year environmental management agreement.
This is a great opportunity to do something really positive for our landscape and environment, with the benefit of grant assistance.
Field boundaries are a valuable part of our heritage, landscape and biodiversity, as well as being important as stock-proof barriers.
The payment rates can represent quite a high percentage of the typical costs of carrying out the work, so applicants can restore substantial lengths of hedgerow or wall at relatively modest net cost.
Pressure on farm incomes means that many field boundaries may not have not been touched for some time, so this offers the possibility of restoring them without undue strain on the farm budget.
Payment rates have been retained at the same level as in 2019, which is £9.40/m for hedge-laying, £9.50/m for filling in gaps and £25/m for stone wall restoration.
The scheme is competitive so applications will be scored against others to assess which offers the greatest value for money.
Land previously in Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) is likely to be scored more highly, due to a desire to continue to preserve and enhance the environmental benefits already created through agri-environment schemes.