In our last blog we referred to an anticipated new woodland planting grant which was predicted to be announced in May. The England Woodland Creation Offer was launched only a touch late last week and includes some good news for landowners considering planting predominantly native woodlands. The scheme has an initial funding of £16 million for one year, and we suspect that a larger and wider scheme will be offered for the following seasons. Sources close to Government indicate that there is still some discussion with Natural England on the balance between commercial forestry and the country’s nature recovery ambitions.
Young trees in a new woodland planting scheme
The Committee for Climate Change have helped drive the commitment to increased tree planting seeking the planting of 30,000 hectares of new woodland a year, to help offset carbon and meet our obligations to become carbon neutral by 2050. Their report and calculations are based on 60% of new planting being broadleaved and 40% conifers. Conifers fix carbon more quickly, and we currently import 80% of our timber requirements, so there are environmental benefits from well planned conifer plantations!
The headline figures are a big improvement on grants available under Countryside Stewardship. They are less generous than once on offer under the Farm Woodland Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, but larger planting areas now have the additional option of selling their captured carbon to other organisations seeking to offset their own carbon emissions. The largest scheme of this nature is managed and promoted by the Forestry Commission through the Woodland Carbon Code.
So what is on offer?
The grant per tree is £1.60 (up from £1.28 under Countryside Stewardship).
A 1.2 or 1.8 metre tree shelter will attract £2.00 (up from £1.60)
Deer fencing is grant aided at £9.00 per metre (up from £7.20)
Ten years of annual payments of £200 per hectare towards early years maintenance, paid annually rather than at five year intervals in arrears.
There are also a series of potential payments for other public benefits, which are new and in addition to the capital items:
A native woodland supplement of £2800 per hectare in priority areas, or £1100 per hectare in lower priority areas to support nature recovery.
An additional £400 per hectare in areas of low water quality.
£500 per hectare for flood risk areas (quite limited in scope).
£1600 per hectare for riparian buffers (also for very specific areas).
£500 per hectare for new woods close to settlements – widely available: see the map below.
A further £2200 per hectare for woodland open to the public for at least thirty years and designed with recreation in mind.
You can check out your land on the Forestry Commission’s Land Information Service mapping site.
Areas (pink) entitled to an additional £500 per hectare for close proximity to settlements (South West)
For our next blog Simon puts forward his ideas on lessons learned from previous planting schemes. Too many planting schemes have been driven by grant aid, with not enough thought given to sustainable long term management. Woodlands are a precious asset and land is in short supply, so it is important that new schemes are well planned and thought through with clear objectives and designs to match. A mistake in forestry terms can be there for fifty or even a hundred years, so it pays to get it right from the outset!
FURTHER INFORMATION on the England Woodland Creation Offer
For the main England Woodland Creation Grant manual click here
For Design Guide click here
Or give our office a ring on 01752 545710 and we will be pleased to help.