Countryside Stewardship 2023

The Countryside Stewardship scheme is now open for applications. Some key changes have been introduced this year as part of Defra’s efforts to improve and simplify the scheme.

Capital Grants Offer

  • This year the two-year standalone Capital Grants offer has increased from 12 options in each category to 67 available options.  The capital items available include capital grants for: Boundaries, Trees and Orchards, Water Quality and Air Quality.  There is a limit of £20,000 within each option grouping, but if drawing on all three pots this means farmers can access up to £60,000
  • Capital grants can now also sit alongside a Wildlife Offer or full Mid-Tier (as long as all other capital items have been completed).   The Capital Grants offer is also available to HLS agreement holders, where the options are compatible. 
  • All capital grant applications can be made online and there are now rolling start dates.  The application window will remain open all year with a 6 week notice period of closure if funds run out.
  • Some items will need approval from a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (CSFO) before being put forward in an application but this year applications from farmers within the medium priority water quality areas will be considered along with those from existing high priority areas.  Priority areas can be viewed through the Magic website at:


The application deadline for Mid-Tier applications will remain as an annual date with applications submitted by 28th July for a 1st Jan 2023 start date.

Payment rates for annual options have been reviewed with some key options increasing by up to 30%.  Some key changes include GS2 Permanent grassland with very low inputs £132/ha up from £95/ha, HS1 Maintenance of traditional weatherproof farm buildings £4.03/m2 up from £3.25, AB1 Nectar flower mix £579/ha up from £511/ha.  AB7 Wholecrop cereals £495 to £554.


The England Woodland Creation Offer is a Forestry Commission initiative to support woodland creation and tree planting across England.

From January 2022 the annual maintenance payment rate increased from £200 to £300 per hectare.  The new rate applies to all existing, as well as new, agreements.

There are also additional payments available for woodland that will deliver added public benefits:

  • Nature Recovery – where woodland creation will expand areas of existing native woodland, create new native woodlands, or expand habitat for red squirrel populations. This will help the recovery of woodland-dependent priority species.
  • Water Quality – where woodland creation will help reduce pollutants entering watercourses through land use changes reducing fertilizer application or by creating woodland that intercepts pollution and sediment before it reaches watercourses. 
  • Flood Risk – where woodland creation can help reduce the risk of flooding. 
  • Riparian buffers – where woodland creation with native broadleaved species will provide dappled shade that will improve aquatic ecology, and benefit wildlife dispersal (e.g. otter) along the habitat corridors this creates. 
  • Close to settlements – where woodland creation will provide social benefits by being close to people. 
  • Access – where woodland creation will provide permissive access for recreation, for at least 30 years, on land that does not currently have access to it.

These additional contributions will be paid once the capital works have been completed.  If the woodland creation provides multiple public benefits, the additional contributions will be stacked.

If you require any further information about these schemes or would like assistance with the application process, please get in touch.

Countryside Stewardship 2023
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