Defra has issued new forms to enable farmers to request an application pack for the mid-tier or higher-tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme by email.
The deadline for higher-tier CSS applications is not until 13 April 2018, but the packs required by a farmer to make an application must be requested by 9 March 2018.
Those applying to the mid-tier scheme have until 31 July 2018 to apply, but they must have requested their application pack by 31 May 2018.
In previous years, farmers have needed to telephone Natural England in order to request the pack.
However, new forms have been made available on the gov.uk website, which allow farmers to request their application packs by email – and they can choose for the packs to be sent out in either an electronic format or by post.
Defra is making efforts to simplify the application process for Countryside Stewardship, which has gained a reputation as a bureaucratic nightmare among farmers.
Defra secretary of state Michael Gove has set a goal that any farmer should be able to complete an application in a working day.
As part of the programme of simplification, the government has also introduced four new ‘wildlife offers’.
The offers are four streamlined packages of options tailored around different farm types.