Record applications for green scheme

9 August 2000

Record applications for green scheme

By FWi staff

A RECORD number of farmers and land managers have applied to join the governments flagship agri-environment scheme.

Junior farm minister Elliot Morley announced on Wednesday (9 August) that 3,500 applications had been received for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

This year there are 3,000 places available on the scheme which pays farmers to improve the natural beauty and diversity of their land in 10-year agreements.

Although this is double the previous years figure, critics said the scheme must be expanded massively to meet demand.

The government went some way to answering this in February when it announced that 500m was to be allocated to the scheme over the next seven years.

This is part of 1.6bn earmarked for environmental expenditure and rural development under the England Rural Development plan.

The budget will peak at 126m in 2006, compared to 13m in 1997.

Announcing the application figures, Mr Morley said: I continue to be both delighted and impressed by the overwhelming commitment to Stewardship and to conservation in general, even in these difficult times.

Among applicants is Willoughby Farm at Alford, Lincolnshire, which has applied to enter its entire 3,000 hectare holding into the scheme.

If successful it will qualify for hundreds of thousands of pounds over the next 10 years and form one of the biggest agreements under the scheme.

The main source of funding is the redirection or “modulation” of direct production subsidies paid to UK producers under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Money will be deducted from production-based subsidies and put into agri-environmental schemes.

Applicants should already have been told the status of their applications, and firm agreement offers should be made by the end of October.

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