Tier up for orchards
The newly restructured Countryside Stewardship scheme now includes orchard works in the mid-tier options. There are two strands to Countryside Stewardship, the existing 10 year higher tier (HT), and the new 5 year mid-tier (MT). They are both the essentially the same, but HT also contains the longer and more complicated options that require bespoke prescriptions and more input from Natural England.
To be eligible for Countryside Stewardship, your orchard has to be registered on the national traditional orchard inventory, which is managed by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). If not already done, fill out a survey here.
You can apply for:
- BE4 (orchard management) for orchards where more than a third of the orchard is planted with trees over 25 years old
- BE5 (orchard creation, HT only) orchards where less than a third of the orchard is planted with trees over 25 years old
- BE7 (pruning supplement)
- TE3 (tree planting)
- TE6, TE7 & TE8 (tree guards)
- Other capital works such as fencing, gates and water troughs may also be applicable.
The applications are awarded on a competitive scale being scored against each other, so it is impossible to say if a site will definitely get into the scheme. Generally MT is easier to get into than HT, as there is more money available for the number of applications received. Farm sites with a lot of complicated options score higher so are more competitive.
So if more than a third of your orchard is planted up with old trees, you’re better off applying for MT. The application window is now open (for agreements starting in January 2019). More details can be found on the gov.uk website.