11 September 1998

Helps needed to cope with all the paperwork

RECENT years have seen rising interest in planting trees on farms and estates, with many farmers planting small blocks on their most unproductive land and in field corners.

This has been during a relatively prosperous period in agriculture but the downturn in profitability is likely to affect the amount planted.

The Woodland Grant Scheme came into force on 19 Sept, 1994 and in April 1997 incorporated the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme.

Several amendments made over the years have resulted in many landowners becoming confused with what is available to the point that professional assistance is usually required to complete all of the paperwork, and supply, plant and sometimes manage the trees.

The aims of the grants available include recreational, environmental and general social economic benefits in addition to the production of timber. &#42

EXISTINGWOOD GRANTS

Annual Management Grant £35/ha a year for any age of woodlands to maintain and improve them where there are environmental benefits and or public access.

Woodland Improvement Grant A discretionary capital payment of 50% of costs for work in existing woodlands for environmental benefits and/or public recreation.

Livestock Exclusion Annual Premium £80/ha a year payable for up to 10 years in Less Favoured Areas or Environmentally Sensitive Area to include livestock from woods of environmental importance.

Christmas Trees Christmas trees do not attract grants. But it is possible, by agreement, to grow Christmas trees for sale in areas of woodland receiving grant.

Taxation of Grants Annual payments under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme and Livestock Exclusion Payments are subject to tax, as they are compensation for lost revenue. Other grants are outside the scope of tax. The costs and revenue from Christmas trees are subject to tax.

Woodlands and set-aside Woodlands planted on eligible set-aside land and in receipt of the FWPS can count towards the obligation to set-aside land under the Arable Area Payments Scheme. The normal woodland grants are available instead of the set-aside payment. Short rotation coppice on set-aside land will receive set-aside payments instead of FWPS.