Maximise Woodland Potential with Proper Prior Planning

2nd February 2018

“With the application window for the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant 2018 closing on the 16th February 2018, farmers and landowners in England should start to develop their applications to maximise the potential for grant approval.” This is the message from Mike Dyke, H&H Land and Property’s Environment & Woodland Advisor.

The Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant allows farmers and land owners to apply for up to £6,800 of capital works funding per hectare, to include tree protection item (tubes), deer fencing, wall-top-wiring and of course the trees themselves. This year will also see the introduction of an addition to the scheme, which covers up to 40% of woodland infrastructure costs. This is an excellent new opportunity to improve the future management prospects of new woodland through the construction of forest roads, gateways, stacking areas and turning heads; making the scheme yet more attractive. When planning new woodland there is much to consider to ensure you meet the scheme’s criteria, but more importantly that the woodland provides the products and services you wish to produce.

Mike, who specialises in woodland advice and grant applications, says: “This is a very welcome grant that covers the cost of establishing the woodland – as well as now making significant contributions to some of the infrastructure costs. However, it is a competitive process and the application can be complicated, so it is imperative that you have a strong and robust application that fits with the priorities of the scheme and can stand up to scrutiny. My advice to any farmer or landowner looking to create woodland of any size is that it is paramount that they look at the opportunities afforded by this grant as soon as possible.”

The Woodland Creation Grant is a standalone capital grant under Countryside Stewardship, and is designed to facilitate and encourage the planting of woodland that will improve biodiversity and/or help to reduce the risk of flooding/ diffuse pollution. Applicants may also apply for annual maintenance payments of £200/ha for 10 further years following a successful WCG application and in many circumstances, would not negatively impact on the ability to continue claiming Basic Payment on the planted land.

Carlisle based H&H Land and Property, Chartered Surveyors, are eager to ensure that Cumbrian farmers and landowners do not miss this excellent opportunity for grant funding which will, in the long term, enhance the rural environment as well as boosting timber production and the Cumbrian economy.

In addition to the Woodland Creation Grant, landowners may also apply to the Woodland Creation Planning Grant, which will contribute to the costs of research and analysis incurred when developing larger (>10ha) woodland creation proposals for productive woodlands.  “Developing productive woodland creation proposals which meet the requirements of the landowner, have strong environmental credentials and provide public benefits do not need to detract from our landscape, historical or cultural heritage” Mike says, “With detailed planning, multi-functional woodlands can be achieved and the WCPG is facilitating this.” The grant is paying £1000 for the production of an approved Stage 1 plan, with up to £150/ha available for the completion of the Stage 1 and 2 plans. Completed plans can form the basis of future WCG applications.

Applications for the Woodland Creation Grant must be submitted before the 16th of February 2018 and application forms for the 2018 schemes are now available online so that applicants may have more time to develop their plans and seek advice from H&H Land and Property’s environmental specialists.

Another option for farmers and landowners is the Woodland Carbon Fund (WCF), which has been designed to encourage large-scale woodland planting to facilitate the achievement of nation-wide carbon reduction governmental targets. The WCF offers payments of up to £6,800/ha of proposed woodlands that follow the scheme’s specifications.

This can rise to £8,500/ha in designated priority areas should the landowner agree to allow permissive access to the public. An underlying theme is to provide new woodlands on the urban fringe and to facilitate multiple landowners to work together to provide large contiguous new woodlands. Like the WCG, this fund can also make 40% contributions to infrastructure costs. There is no annual payment under this grant, but a “second stage” payment is being offered in year 5 to secure the success of plantings.

The WCPG and the WCF grants are funded by UK Government rather than RDPE monies, demonstrating a strong commitment from UK Government to meet their tree planting and carbon reduction targets, as well as support the rural community in the process.

For more information on the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant, Woodland Creation Planning Grant or Woodland Carbon Fund, please contact Mike Dyke at H&H Land and Property Carlisle office on 01228 406260.