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Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier Application Deadline Looming!

The deadline for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier applications is the 30th of September.  However, those that are interested in the scheme should have already applied for their application forms from Natural England, this needed to have been done by 31st July 2017.  According to Natural England they are expecting more applications than in previous years gauged by the number of forms they have sent out this year so ensuring your application is well designed to score highly and getting it in early, is advisable.  Committing time to this exercise at this busy period in the farming calendar can be difficult, however applicants should act now given the deadline is around the corner and careful consideration should be given to research the options and it also takes time to gather all the supporting evidence required.

Natural England have reported previously that more than half of Mid Tier applications contain an error that requires the form to be returned to applicants. You can avoid this by checking your form for the following common errors:

  • Number of signatures/permissions not compatible with trading statuses (e.g. two signatures given for a business indicated as a sole trader)
  • Corrections to the form not initialled by the applicant
  • RLE1 form outstanding
  • Rotational options/capital items listed on annexes as a total length/area, rather than the individual quantities to be applied to individual parcels being detailed separately
  • Farm Environment Record (FER) being left blank when applicants must confirm that there are no features to record if this is the case (this error is common for water only capital applications)

You should also check your supporting evidence is complete. Common errors, which can all slow the application process down include:

  • Failure to supply all evidence required, for example:
    • Missing photographs;
    • Missing assessment forms for GS2/GS5 (low input grasslands) and HS1/HS8 (traditional farm buildings);
    • Confirmation that drainage maps etc. are not required/available;
    • Confirmation that BE3 evidence is not applicable so maps are not necessary etc.
  • Planning permission/Environment Agency approval not requested or pending where relevant
  • A copy of advice and consents from the flood defence consenting authority not provided or confirmation that it is not required, where relevant
  • Soil erosion and run off risk recorded inconsistently on the application form, annexes and maps (guidance available here)
  • Sketch map not provided for water quality options

Where an option requires supporting evidence and that evidence is not available, for whatever reason, it is important you let Natural England know in your application otherwise it will hold up the processing of your application.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact:

[team-member name=”Ben Rogerson”]

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