The deadline for Countryside Stewardship (CS) Mid-Tier applications is fast approaching. If you want to apply, remember Natural England must receive your form and any supporting evidence by 31 August 2018. Agreements will start from 1 January 2019.
10 hints and tips to help you with your application
Use the checklist below with the ‘How to complete the Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier application form’ guidance on GOV.UK to help you complete your application and maps.
Choose the best options in the best locations
When deciding what to apply for, it’s worthwhile finding out what the local priorities are for your area first. You can use the CS Option Finder Tool on the Rural Payments service (www.gov.uk/rural-payments) to find out which priority options are best suited to your farm and location. This should increase your score, making it more likely you’ll be offered an agreement. Non-competitive organic conversion and management options are available.
Applications for the new CS Wildlife Offers must meet the minimum requirements of these offers to be successful.
If you claim for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and declare land for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs), there are CS Mid Tier options that can no longer overlap with EFAs declared for BPS 2019. These options can be in the same land parcel (co-location) but they must not overlap. This is to avoid funding the same activity on the same land parcel under both CS and BPS, known as ‘double funding’. You can find more information about the affected CS Mid Tier options on GOV.UK
Check your land is registered correctly with RPA
Check your online maps by going to ‘View land’ on the Rural Payments service (www.gov.uk/rural-payments). All land parcels where options are to be located must be registered with RPA (including areas not eligible for BPS such as farmyards). If you need to register land or request a mapping change, fill in an RLE1 form and send it to RPA. You can find more information about updating land parcel records before you apply, on GOV.UK
Make sure the land parcels are linked to your SBI (Single Business Identifier), so they show on your online maps. To link a registered land parcel to your SBI, fill in an RLE1 form to transfer that land to you. If the land needs to remain linked to another SBI at the same time because someone else claimed BPS 2018, write ‘Dual use – maintain link to existing SBI’ on the front page of the RLE1 form.
If you’re including BE3 (Management of hedgerows), BN5 (Hedgerow laying) or BN6 (Hedgerow coppicing) in your application, check the new hedges information on your online maps. If the hedges are incorrect or missing, fill in an RLE1 form and send it to RPA.
Tips when you fill in an RLE1
- Download an RLE1 form on GOV.UK.
- Put a cross in the Rural Development Programme scheme box on the front page.
- Write ‘RLE1 required to support Countryside Stewardship 2019 application’ on the front page.
- Send the RLE1 form to RPA immediately so it does not delay validation of your CS application.
Check your options are compatible with the declared land use of the parcel for BPS 2018
CS Options must be compatible with the declared land use of the parcel. For example, some CS options can only be put on permanent grassland and some only on arable land. This compatibility is checked against the BPS 2018 land use codes used.
To check compatibility, go to the individual option or capital item details in the CS grant finder at www.gov.uk/countryside-stewardship-grants – see the specific requirements under ‘Where to use this [option or item]’.
Review your Historic Environment Farm Record (HEFER)
You should have received your HEFER response, if not please call Natural England on 0208 026 1089 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To note: this does not apply to an application for our Wildlife Offers.
Complete your maps
On your Farm Environment Record map remember to include all hedgerow trees and use correct colour codes for hedges (as shown on the map legend). On your Options map, check all non-rotational options and capital items are marked. You do not need to mark rotational options.
Include your required evidence
Gather all necessary evidence to include with your application.
- Use the new Evidence checking tool to help you find out quickly and easily what evidence you need to send with your 2019 Mid Tier application (including CS Wildlife Offers). Please also refer to the checklists in your pack (annex 3 and annex 4) and/or the full option/capital item details in the CS grant finder at gov.uk/countryside-stewardship-grants if you are in any doubt.
- Make sure your evidence is clearly labelled with the option code and land parcel reference it refers to. See further information on sending in evidence (including requirements for photos) in section 4 of the CS Mid-Tier Manual on UK
- If you send evidence separately to your application you will need to label it with your SBI, the land parcel number and the option/item code it is for on each document you send.
Remember Natural England must receive all required evidence by 31 August 2018. If supporting evidence is missing, the options will be removed and/or your application may be rejected.
Check your form
Check you’ve answered all the relevant questions on the application form. Make sure that:
- you’ve included your SBI
- each option or capital item meets any minimum area/length requirements
- you have approval for those options that require it
- you’ve included details of any land parcels at risk of runoff or soil erosion. These can be identified by using the ‘Runoff and soil erosion risk assessment’ document on UK
Sign your form
The form must be signed by person(s) with the authority and capacity to complete the application. An agent or other person submitting the application on behalf of the business must have ‘Submit’ permission under ‘Countryside Stewardship (Applications)’ on the Rural Payments service. To give someone ‘Submit’ permission go to ‘Business overview’ and ‘Give access’ on the Rural Payments service. Call the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301 if you need any help with this.
- Search for ‘Countryside Stewardship’ on GOV.UK for full scheme guidance.
- Use the ‘How to complete the Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier application form’ guidance which gives you step by step help while completing your application.
- Register for the Rural Payments service to update your details (including digital maps) or to give someone ‘permission’ to submit an application on your behalf. Find out more on the Rural Payments: registering and updating your details
- To discuss your application contact Natural England Enquiries Helpline on: 0300 060 3900.
- You may also wish to contact your membership organisation local representative or a professional adviser for advice or help with your application.