tree planting scheme© Photofusion/Rex/Shutterstock

The government has set up a £5m grant scheme for farmers to create and restore native woodlands along the HS2 high-speed railink between London and Birmingham.

The first £1m of the pot, provided through HS2 funds and administered by the Forestry Commission, will be available to applications from January 2018.

Grants will cover up to 100% of the costs to a maximum of £8,500/ha (£3,440/acre) for new woodland and £4,000/ha (£1,620/acre) for replanting ancient woodland after felling.

See also: Farmers urged to apply for woodland creation grant

Oliver Thompson, senior forestry manager with land agent Savills, said that the sums offered were based on Forestry Commission standard costs.

“These standard costs are up to £1.28 to plant a tree and £7/m to put up rabbit fencing, and all work will have to be paid for upfront before funding is released,” Mr Thompson said.

‘Unique opportunity’

“There are also additional payments available for fencing and other capital items as well as 10-year maintenance payments for woodland creation.”

Mr Thompson urged farmers within the 25-mile buffer area of the HS2 route to make use of the grant.

“It is a unique opportunity which allows landowners to expand their native woodland cover and enhance biodiversity using this newly created funding stream through HS2,” he said.

But he warned any interested parties to apply quickly. The funding is expected to close in April 2020 and will be subject to remaining budget availability.

Details of when the remaining £4m of the total £5m funding pot will become available have yet to be released.