Higher Level Stewardship funding plans

The Government has also confirmed the spending details on Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) until 2014.

It plans to increase spending on the scheme by 80 per cent by 2014 and has lifted its freeze on new agreements that followed its spending review last month.

This means that Natural England will be able to update farmers and growers on their applications within the next four weeks.

Agriculture minister Jim Paice said: "Natural England will now be able to lift the temporary freeze on setting up new agreements and farmers will be able to make plans based on definite funding dates. Natural England will work to prioritise applications as quickly as possible. A limited number of priority cases will be given start dates this year, but due to a record number of HLS applications many will have to wait until April 2011 to join."

The amount of funding that can be spent on maintaining and restoring farm buildings will be capped, allowing a larger number of smaller projects to be supported.

Farmers will still be able to apply for one-off payments to support access to the countryside or hosting school farm visits. New applicants won't be given annual payments to support these activities, but farmers with existing agreements will not be affected.


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