DEFRA's Forestry Innovation Fund is a nationwide £1 million fund to support schemes that will promote the growth of the forest industry in their region. The Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) is financed by this fund.
Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG)
Applications for the WCPG are now open. Please note WCPG is not part of Countryside Stewardship which provides other funding opportunities for creating and managing woodland.
What is it?
WCPG contributes towards the costs of gathering and analysing the information land managers need to consider to ensure their proposals for productive multi-purpose woodland take account of any impacts on: biodiversity, landscape, water, the historic environment and local stakeholders.
WCPG ultimately requires production of a UK Forestry Standard compliant plan for creating the woodland that shows how any constraints and opportunities have been taken in to account.
What is eligible?
Proposals need to meet some basic criteria, being at least 30 hectares in area and showing potential to benefit the forestry sector in the long-term through the provision of timber or other wood products. We will accept applications that span multiple land holdings, though the grant is only available on land in England.
Existing native, semi-natural habitats are likely to have a high value for biodiversity, and for landscape and visual interest. This will need to be compared with the value of new woodland. Moreover there is a specific presumption against the conversion of priority habitats, such as deep peat or active raised bogs. Where the proposed planting is on semi-natural habitat the presumption is that the planting will be restricted to native broadleaved species or it will be retained as open ground adding to the forest mosaic.
What is the process?
Where we are satisfied the proposal meets the eligibility criteria we will offer the Stage 1 grant within ten working days of receiving the application.
You should refer to the Practice Guide on Design techniques for forest management planning. This provides guidance on the design process which WCPG’s stages support.
Stage 1 involves a desk-based data gathering exercise to identify all of the constraints and issues that might affect the planting proposal. The checks that must be made to receive the payment are set out in the Stage 1 Checklist. Stage 1 should also identify any high sensitivity issues which may require an Extraordinary Payment and other analysis, information and surveys that will be required to receive the Stage 2 payment.
Once the Stage 1 work is completed and has been submitted to us for payment we will decide if the proposal warrants a Stage 2 payment. If we agree there is a need for an Extraordinary Payment, for example for a Landscape Visual Impact Assessment or Critical Loads Assessment, this will be confirmed with the applicant and payment will be made when we are satisfied that the additional assessment/survey has been completed to an adequate standard.
The Stage 2 payment supports the critical part of the process: the analysis of how the constraints and opportunities identified at Stage 1 and during the Stage 2 field survey influence the woodland’s design. Payment of the Stage 2 is paid on our approval of a Site Appraisal Plan, and a draft UKFS compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan (WCDP) that shows how the constraints and opportunities have been evaluated and have informed the WCDP (and, where necessary, a Phase 2 Habitat survey). The minimum criteria these plans must cover are set out in the Stage 2 Checklist.
Please note our approval of the draft WCDP does not infer automatic approval of the planting scheme which will still be subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 and consultation.
What are the payments?
|A completed Stage 1 Checklist and supporting documents including at least one map showing the constraints that apply to creating woodland at the site.
||We will pay a fixed £1,000 for this work.|
|If the data collected at Stage 1 confirms there is potential for a scheme the applicant will be offered a Stage 2 payment.|
Stage 2a: Field Survey and Analysis
Habitat survey (if existing semi-natural habitat present).
Production of a Site Appraisal Plan that clearly shows how the constraints and opportunities have informed the woodland’s design. This will include a bar and written scale, north sign and clear annotation. The scale of the plan will ensure the key features and their character are clearly legible and it is possible to see the relationship between them. For large sites this may extend to more than one plan.
We will pay a standard payment per hectare which, including the Stage 1 payment, is £150 per hectare. This payment may be supplemented by an Extraordinary Payment where Stage 1 data shows more detailed assessment is required. For example, a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment when within or within in sight of a designated landscape or sight of a designated landscape or an otherwise sensitive landscape.
|Stage 2b: Synthesis||
Production of a Design Concept Plan showing an outline proposal(s) that has analysed scheme objectives, the site appraisal and any other relevant survey work.
Production of a draft UKFS compliant draft Woodland Creation Design Plan that addresses the points in the Stage 2 Checklist.
|The total payments combined across Stage 1 and Stage 2 is capped at £30,000.|
The WCPG pilot ran from December 2015 to February 2016. During this time Forestry Commission England received 11 applications for WCPG. We offered a grant to all applicants and 10 of these offers are being taken forward. The 10 offers being taken forward relate to proposals for a total of 1,064 hectares of new productive woodland (gross area including open space within the woodland) and range from 339 to 33 hectares in area. The average size of a proposal is 96 hectares. Please note that the areas may change through the planning process.
The WCPG is not part of Countryside Stewardship (CS) but will complement applications for CS options to support woodland creation. You might also wish to consider the Woodland Carbon Code as additional funding for Woodland Creation. It will be subject to state aid rules.