Funding available soon for improvement works

The Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme will open for applications on February 1

The Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme opens for applications soon, funding work including keeping livestock away from stream
The Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme opens for applications soon, funding work including keeping livestock away from stream

The Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grant Scheme will open for applications on February 1.

The grants scheme supports farmers to undertake practical works that will help improve water quality and reduce pollution from agricultural activity within the CSF project’s 77 catchment areas, including areas of North Northumberland and east Cumbria.

More than 40 types of capital item are eligible, including installing water troughs, roofing manure and silage stores, and works to keep livestock away from streams.

A total of £7.5m is available from the grant fund to support projects that meet the scheme’s criteria.

Farmers within the Capital Grant Scheme’s priority catchments who are interested in making a grant application should contact their local Catchment Sensitive Farming officer as soon as possible for more information. Contact details are available in the CSF section of Natural England’s website or email catchmentsensitivefarming@naturalengland.org.uk

The Capital Grant Scheme is a competitive fund with grants going to applications that best meet the scheme’s priorities and have the greatest environmental benefit.

Grants of up to a £10,000 per holding are available and the scheme can pay 50% of the cost of approved capital works. The deadline for completed applications to be returned is 31 March 2014.

Catchment Sensitive Farming is a partnership between Natural England and the Environment Agency, funded by Defra and the Rural Development Programme for England, working in priority catchments within England.

For more information about Catchment Sensitive Farming visit the CSF pages on Natural England’s website or email catchmentsensitivefarming@naturalengland.org.uk

Detailed maps for individual catchments can be viewed on the CSF website but please note that a few amendments to some of the CSF area boundaries will not be updated before February 12.

Meanwhile, Northumberland rural surveyor Richard Brown warns that last year, the unprecedented increase in volume of applications - 4000 compared to 2500 in the previous year - resulted in many strong applications being rejected.

Therefore the importance of submitting the “best” application possible to this competitive scheme is greater than ever.

However, Richard, who runs Richard Brown & Partners at South Bellshill, Belford, says there are several areas where an applicant could take steps to improve the strength of their application, such as:

Increased interaction with CSF officers and events - attend Natural England events in your area and possibly consider a farm visit from your local CSF officer.

If you are not already in a stewardship scheme give it further consideration. The window for (Entry Level) applications is currently closed but this would not stop communication with Natural England regarding a future application - this would help the strength of your CSF application.

Choose target items in your application. If Natural England value watercourse fencing as high priority and concrete yard renewal as low, do not apply for the latter - with stiff competition you are almost sure to fail.

Richard adds: “Ultimatelyyou cannot simply make an application for the sake of it. The grantis based on 50% of actual cost,not outright. This is, however, a great help if you are planning on doing something on the farm where a grant might be available.”

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