red squirrel© Phil McLean/FLPA / imagebroker/Rex/Shutterstock

New grant funding will enable landowners with land or woodland within 25 miles of HS2 to establish new, or manage existing, plantations and ancient woodlands.

The £1m HS2 Woodland Fund – delivered by the Forestry Commission – will support the creation of a “green corridor of connected wildlife” alongside the railway.

It is open to farmers with land situated on the HS2 line between London and the West Midlands.

See also: New £60m small grants scheme – all you need to know

“Grants will cover a range of capital items, paying 100 percent of the associated standard cost, with a 10-year maintenance payment also available for woodland creation at £200/ha,” said Robert Bloomfield, chartered surveyor at Berrys.

There is a grant ceiling of £8,500/ha for capital items for native woodland creation and £4,000/ha for ancient woodland restoration.

Funding opened in January and is due to close in April 2020, subject to budget availability. Capital items include tree planting, shelters, fencing and badger gates.

Land planted as woodland under the scheme will also retain BPS payments, subject to meeting eligibility requirements.

A separate £5m fund, similarly administered by the Forestry Commission, has also been created to support the restoration of existing ancient woodland sites as well as the creation of new woodlands.

Advice for farmers considering applying

Before making an application, what do landowners need to consider?

  • Claims need to be made before any establishment or management work is carried out.
  • Research what capital items are covered by the grant – unlike stewardship schemes, this is very prescriptive as to what is available.
  • Make applications as soon as possible – it is uncertain how long this funding will be available for.