Receive up to £6,800 per hectare to create new woodland, or up to £8,500 per hectare if you provide permissive access across the woodland (dependent on its location). Applications for the Woodland Carbon Fund open on 10 November 2016.
The Woodland Carbon Fund is a simple, demand-led grant scheme to boost the rate of woodland creation and to visibly demonstrate how, by taking a natural capital approach, woodland creation can help to meet government’s future carbon targets alongside delivering other benefits. Successful applications will be for large-scale (>30 ha with a minimum block size of 10 ha), predominantly productive woodland and, where possible, have sought opportunities to improve public access and achieve wider environmental outcomes in line with the UK Forestry Standard.
What is it?
A grant to support the planting of multipurpose woodlands over 30 ha in size, providing opportunities to work in partnership at a landscape scale, to improve public access to woodland and achieve wider environmental outcomes by:
- Contributing to future carbon budgets;
- Maximising natural capital benefits (by providing community access);
Acting as a pathfinder for large scale woodland creation; and
- Encouraging partnership approached and landscape-scale projects.
The Woodland Carbon Fund is not part of Countryside Stewardship grant funding but sits alongside the grant support available via Countryside Stewardship and the recently re-opened Woodland Creation Planning Grant.
Maximum grants available will range between £6,800 and £8,500 per hectare depending on the site’s location, with the higher rate available in ‘peri-urban’ (those areas surrounding urban areas) locations and if you provide permissive access to the public on foot. Additional support is available as a contribution to the installation of infrastructure such as footpaths to support recreation.
Is my land eligible?
In order to be eligible you will need to meet the following criteria:
- You have 30 ha of land or more to be planted (up to 20% open space permitted in final design) with a minimum block size of 10 ha;
- The land can be in multiple ownership including where the applicant has the landowner’s written permission but does not own the land;
- You are looking to create predominantly productive woodland (minimum GYC6 broadleaves; GYC10 pine; GYC12 other conifers on 70% of net planted area);
- Minimum stocking density of 2,000 stems per hectare on a net area basis;
- Proposals to create short rotation forestry, short rotation coppice or plant fast growing species such as eucalypts for energy are not eligible;
- For confirmation of grant-aid, the possession of a UKFS-compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan (the production of which is eligible for funding through the WCPG, subject to its initial criteria) and clearance to plant under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (this may be confirmation an EIA is not needed or, should one be required, consent);
- Put simply, eligibility is limited to privately owned land and land in the ownership of Local Authorities.
What is the process?
Submit an application form to the scheme administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org to be assessed by a panel consisting of representatives from Forestry Commission, Defra, Natural England and Environment Agency, to evaluate applications meeting the criteria set out above to agree funding.
The form must be supplemented with either:
- A completed Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) Stage 1 Checklist and supporting documents including at least one map showing the constraints that apply to the creation of woodland at the site.
- A draft or completed UKFS-compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan.
- Forestry Commission England has given an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening decision that the proposal does not require an EIA, or you have obtained consent in the event an EIA was needed.
In the case of (a) and (b), the Panel will provide an ‘in principle’ decision within 3 months of the application being submitted as to whether funding will be made available, subject to the preparation of a UKFS-compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan and subsequent EIA clearance or consent. In the case of (c), a direct decision on funding for the proposal will be communicated to the applicant within three months.
Payments will be made by BACS transfer, following submission of a claim form and following an inspection.
How much funding could I get?
The Standard Rate reflects Countryside Stewardship capital items, paid at 80% intervention rate, with a cap of £6,800 per ha.
In peri-urban areas (defined using an updated EWGS ‘Priority Places for England’ spatial layer, the layer can be accessed from the Forestry Commission’s Land Information System (LIS: www.forestry.gov.uk/england-lis advanced>advanced search>Forestry Commission – priority places for England), grant will be paid at 100% intervention rate (capped at £8,500/ha). The ‘Priority Places’ enhanced rate will require that Permissive Access on foot is provided to the public across the woodland for 30 years. An inspection will be under-taken five years after the grant has been paid to ensure that the woodland has established successfully. If has not the grant may be re-claimed.
For all schemes, a discretionary grant will be available for recreational infrastructure. Payment will be based on actual costs (80% intervention rate), but only paid on demonstration of demand. Total funds available for recreational infrastructure will be capped at 10% in individual applications or 5% of total scheme funds.
The current conditions and funding levels apply at present and may change following further analysis.
The woodland will not be eligible for maintenance or income foregone payments associated with the Countryside Stewardship Grant Scheme. The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) might provide a suitable source of additional funding and applicants should be encouraged to register the scheme with the WCC if they are successful in attracting a WCF grant.
The Forestry Commission, via Defra, have been allocated £19.2 million from the Spending Review 2015 Capital Allocation to help accelerate tree planting. The opening of this new grant scheme was welcomed by the Forestry Minister Thérèse Coffey at the Forestry Forum on the 18 October 2016.
Applicants are encouraged to apply for Woodland Creation Planning Grant funding to help with scheme design.
Woodlands will not be eligible for CAP Basic Payment Scheme. If the land is currently registered on the Rural Payments service, applicants will be required to notify the RPA of the location of the Woodland Carbon Fund scheme and the change of land use at the time of tree planting.