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Farmers wanting to join the mid-tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) can book a free one-to-one session with an adviser who will help to guide them through the application process.

The advice sessions are being run by FWAG South West in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Avon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and by Adas in all other regions of England.

The sessions are aimed at farmers and land managers as part of a package of activities to make the application process for CSS easier for producers.

See also: What the new countryside stewardship scheme offers farmers

The scheme has a reputation for being complex and while Natural England has made efforts to simplify the application process, the guidance notes still run to more than 400 pages.

Advice session

Producers wanting to book a slot with a consultant must have a copy of their application paperwork and be ready to discuss their preferred options and capital works.

Farmers also have the choice of attending a second free one-to-one session if they would like help with checking a completed application before submitting it.

These appointments are to ensure they have completed the paperwork correctly, all the necessary supporting evidence is in place and that applicants fully understand the requirements and restrictions of the chosen options.

Potential applicants can choose to be accompanied by an agent. However, agents cannot attend on behalf of their client.

Application packs

Farmers still have plenty of time to make an application for a CSS agreement with a 1 January 2018 start date.

Mid-tier application packs need to be requested by 31 July, but the application does not need to be submitted until 30 September.

Farmers wishing to apply for a one-on-one session in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Avon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire should contact 01823 663 074 or email csadvice@fwagsw.org.uk

For all other regions of England contact Adas on 0845 371 3399 or bookings@adas.co.uk

Farmers are also have the option of attending group mid-tier CSS briefing events which will continue to run through June (external PDF document).