English countryside© Rex

Natural England has confirmed that it has extended the deadline for claim forms to be submitted for Environmental Stewardship agreement payments to 15 June in 2015, in line with this year’s Basic Payment Scheme.

The government’s advisory body on the natural environment has also issued extra guidance to help answer farmers’ questions about how to record rotational arable options.

See also: Defra reveals funding details for Countryside Stewardship

Farmers are still being “strongly advised” to submit their claim as soon as possible to allow enough time for any queries to be resolved.

Pre-populated claim forms were sent out to agreement holders in March.

Claire Robinson, NFU Countryside adviser, said it was sensible to align the deadlines between ES and the BPS.

“Farmers still need to get their forms in as quickly as possible as they have to be processed. For payments to be released, the ES forms needs to be cross-checked against the BPS form to see if the two tally. So both do have to be in and sorted.”

The extra advice on rotational arable options would give farmers greater clarity on how they should complete their forms, she added.

“We were getting lots of questions on rotational arable options and unestablished options. People were asking when did they count things and if they were yet to establish the option should it go on the form.

“Natural England has produced a table which does answer some fairly critical questions that hadn’t been answered before.” 

If farmers have not yet received their stewardship claim form they should telephone Natural England on 0300 060 0011.