New Countryside Stewardship what's in it for commoners and hill farmers in general?

A new introductory leaflet to Countryside Stewardship has just been published. We thought you would be interested so please see the link below.

Our first impressions is that Countryside Stewardship appears so focused on biodiversity there is little room for financially supporting the delivery of any other outcomes. Landscape, cultural heritage and access are the very poor relations in this current round of CAP. This is not good news for hill farmers.


The main points in relation to commons seem to be:

  • All commons agreements will be “higher tier” – so there is no UELS equivalent for commons
  • Payments expected to be around £43 per hectare
  • Agreements will all be for 10 years
  • Before applying, a Moorland Management Plan will have to be drawn up
  • Negotiations on stocking rates must be concluded and an internal agreement must be in place BEFORE an application can be submitted
  • Natural England will be drawing up a list of potential agreements to start on 1st Jan 2016 (the pipeline) in late Jan/early Feb 2015

All commons coming out of UELS next year (2015) you need to start thinking about whether you want to go into Higher Tier now as you have to make your application  between July and September 2105. You need to contact Natural England first.

Hill farming

There doesn’t look to be a lot in it for hill farmers on their in-bye and allotment land. There is no wall maintenance option at all and no options for low intensity pasture or meadow management or a basic moorland management option, like the old EL6. Neither is there an upland cattle grazing option, as there was in UELS, only a supplement to be added to other options. That means upland farms are only going to be able to access the scheme if they either

•    Have moorland (with some ecological interest) where they are prepared to take a hit on sheep numbers
•    Manage species-rich hay meadows
•    Are in a target area for upland breeding waders (which rules out most of the Lake District)
•    Do lots of woodland management

Alongside this, they’ve published the proposed payment rates for Countryside Stewardship. These are the payment rates for both land management options and capital items. Further information will be published on GOV.UK at as schemes are finalised. The leaflet can be downloaded from