LAUNCHED in February for the upcoming scheme year, The Countryside Stewardship Scheme has undergone a number of significant changes for 2021.

Offering farmers and land managers agreements to help improve and protect the natural environment, the scheme is now open and has this year been designed to make it more attractive to potential applicants. Here, David Morley, Head of Conservation & Environment for H&H Land & Estates, elaborates on the changes made to the Capital Grants, and encourages all to apply.

The number of standalone capital grants available has been considerably widened, and the maximum grant that can be applied for has been increased to £20,000 in each of the three strands:

Hedgerows & Boundaries Grant

This offers two-year capital works agreements for hedgerow and dry-stone wall restoration. Grants are paid at “standard” rates, for example, £25 per metre for wall restoration, £9.40 per metre for hedge laying. In addition, for the first time, it is now possible to apply for new hedge planting, which is paid at £11.60 per metre.

Water Capital Grants

Water Capital Grants continue to be available in much of Cumbria and various other catchments across the north of England. These two-year grants contribute towards capital projects that offer water quality benefits, such as re-concreting broken yards (£27.14 per me) or covering over silage pits or middens (£62 per m2). The increase in maximum grant makes it much more feasible to roof many silage pits, which are simply too large to have been done within the previous £10k limit. Most water capital grant items must be endorsed by the local Natural England Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer.

Under this strand, it is now also possible to apply for new fencing to protect watercourses. This pays £4.90 a metre and CSFO endorsement is not needed.

Air Quality Grants

New for 2021 are air quality grants, aimed at reducing ammonia emissions. There are three capital items available: automatic slurry scrapers, paid at £2,760 per channel or passageway; Low emission flooring for livestock buildings, paid at £72sq metre; and planting trees to create a shelter belt to intercept ammonia emissions.

In each case, CSFO endorsement is needed to apply for the item.

Therefore, it is now possible to apply for £60,000 worth of grant funding, without entering into a multi-annual agreement. For all the Capital Grants, the application window is open until April 30, 2021.

For water capital grants, this is considerably earlier than previous years, when the deadline was the end of July. Where CSFO endorsement is needed, all the necessary evidence must be provided to them by March 19. Farmers already in a Higher Level Environmental Stewardship (HLS) agreement can also apply for any of the standalone capital grants, provided they are compatible with their existing agreement.

For more information, email David on