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HS2 Woodland Fund

Background

As part of the construction of HS2, a green corridor of connected wildlife habitats is being created alongside the railway. This includes around 7 million new trees and shrubs on phase one of the railway, from London to the West Midlands.

In addition to this main tree planting programme, a separate £5 million fund has been established to support the restoration of existing ancient woodland sites and the creation of new woodlands. The first £1 million of funding is being managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of HS2 Ltd.

About the Fund

The HS2 Woodland Fund provides grant payments for restoring plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) and/or creating new native woodland. Funding is available for a range of capital items, paying 100% of the associated standard cost, with a maintenance payment also available for woodland creation. £1 million of funding is due to open for applications in January 2018 and will close in April 2020, subject to remaining budget availability. There are no application windows.

State Aid Rules

The HS2 Woodland Fund operates under the EU State Aid de minimis regulation. This allows an enterprise to receive up to €200,000 (~£140,000) as de minimis aid over three financial years. As part of the application process you will need to declare the amount of de minimis aid received during the current and previous two financial years, and should consider how a HS2 Woodland Fund grant will add to this amount. Further information is available via https://www.gov.uk/guidance/state-aid. The Forestry Commission is in the process of notifying this scheme as a Treaty-compliant State Aid.

How much funding is available?

The total payment per hectare for capital items is capped at £8,500 (gross) for native woodland creation and £4,000 (net) for PAWS restoration. The cap for native woodland creation does not include leaky woody dams. The cap for PAWS restoration is based on the net area of planting and does not include any protection or preparation measures. In addition, for woodland creation, a ten year maintenance payment is available, subject to eligibility, at £200 per hectare per annum, paid in batches at years 5 and 10 of the agreement period. Land owned by state or local authorities is not eligible for maintenance payments.

Land planted as woodland under the HS2 Woodland Fund can also retain BPS payments subject to meeting eligibility requirements. This includes the land having been used to claim the Single Payment Scheme in 2008, and the complete exclusion of livestock from the newly created woodland (if not claiming BPS, agreement holders may choose not to exclude livestock from their woodland at the discretion of the Forestry Commission, and provided newly planted trees are appropriately protected from grazing for the duration of the obligation period). In order to retain BPS payments, eligible agreement holders must notify the RPA of their newly planted woodland by completing an RLE1 form to update the land cover. Further guidance is available on GOV.UK and in Operations Note 42 (to be updated).

The following capital items are available; the specifications for each item match those set out for Countryside Stewardship:

 Item Payment Rate (100% standard costs) Available for PAWS Restoration? Available for Native Woodland Creation?
Tree Planting £1.60 / tree Yes Yes
Tree Shelters £2.00 / tree Yes Yes
Deer Fencing £9.00 /m Yes Yes
Temp Deer Fencing £6.50 / m Yes Yes
Stock Fence £5 / m Yes Yes
Sheep netting £6.13 / m Yes Yes
Rabbit netting £3.13 / m Yes Yes
Field gate £487.50 / gate Yes Yes
Stone wall top netting £4.50 / m Yes Yes
Badger Gate £168.75 / m Yes Yes
Leaky Woody Dams 1-3m £576.75 / m Yes Yes
Leaky Woody Dams 3-5m £995.54 / m Yes Yes
Deer high seats £375 / seat Yes No
Deer exclosure plot £136 / plot Yes No
Invasive Species Control £3500 / ha Yes No
Invasive Species Control: 2.5 -4m £4000 / ha Yes No
Invasive Species Control:  4+m £5500 / ha Yes No


Additional items are under development. These will be added to the Application Form should they become available. Subscribe to our Grants and Regulations eAlert to be notified of any changes.

Will I be eligible?

The fund will be available to all eligible woodland owners and land managers within a 25 mile buffer around the Phase One Act Limits[1].  Applications that fall marginally outside of this zone but are of outstanding quality may be considered at the discretion of the Forestry Commission.

There are a series of thresholds that apply for both woodland creation and PAWS restoration; you will be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

 Thresholds   Creation  PAWS
Minimum application size

Connecting or extending existing ancient woodland:

Minimum application area 1ha; minimum block size 0.1ha.

Standalone woodland:
Minimum application area 5ha; minimum block size 5ha.
Minimum width (either connecting/expanding or standalone): 20 metres

Minimum application of 0.5ha.  Minimum felling coupe size 0.1ha
Maximum application size

Connecting or extending existing woodland: Maximum application area 25ha.

Standalone woodland: maximum application area 25ha.

No Maximum application area. 0.1 -2ha for individual felling coupes.
Stocking densities stems per ha (sph) 1600 - 2500 1100 -2500 (where there is existing natural native broadleaf regeneration, planting will be to enrich this and reach the stocking density range).

Species Mix

A list of funded trees and shrubs, and a list of unfunded shrubs that may be included but will not be funded, is available in the Application Form.

A selection of native trees and shrubs:

Up to 20% honorary broadleaves
Up to 20% woody shrubs
No single species to be more than 75%

A selection of native trees and shrubs:

Where honorary broadleaves are present on site up to 20% may be replanted or the percentage present at the time of felling can be replanted up to a maximum of 20%
Up to 20% shrubs
No single species to be more than 75% of the restock area

Species Selection The FC Ecological Site Classification Tool should be used to inform species selection based on the medium - high climate change projections up to 2080. Support will be available from an FC Woodland Officer.
Creation/Management Plan A woodland creation plan is required and forms part of the Application Form. The larger the application, the more supplementary information is likely to be needed.

A UKFS-compliant, FC-approved Woodland Management Plan must be in place before an HS2 Woodland Fund agreement is offered.

In addition, a Deer Management Plan must be prepared where applicable.

How to Apply

Applicants must apply by completing the HS2 Woodland Fund Application Form and submitting it to the scheme administrator hs2woodlandfund@forestry.gsi.gov.uk . The scheme guidance is contained within the Application Form (MS Excel) at the top of each sheet.

The self-scoring sheet and Woodland Creation Plan (for those applying to create new native woodland) are also incorporated into the form. If the size and location of an application that includes native woodland creation are such that the EIA process will need to be engaged, an application to the HS2 Woodland Fund will be deemed to be an application for an EIA determination. You can find guidance on the additional information requirements for EIA here. The EIA process will be led by the FC Woodland Officer and you will be notified of the outcome of the EIA determination when you are notified of the outcome of your HS2 Woodland Fund application, and not before.

In addition to the Application Form applicants need to also submit:

Woodland Creation

  • Planting Map - a map to show the location of the different species to be planted;
  • Concept Map  - a map to show the design of the woodland including the location of proposed capital items, areas of open space, fence lines, map number, and a central OS 6 figure grid reference.

PAWS restoration

  • PAWs restoration work area map - a map to show the area of planned activity including the location of capital items, areas of open space, fence lines, map number, and a central OS 6 figure grid reference;
  • Condition Assessment form (if it has already been completed prior to application) - a survey to help woodland managers rapidly assess the ecological condition of their woodland.

Exemplary maps of the types required with your application are available on the right hand side of this page. You may find it useful to review these before creating your own map(s).

Applications can be submitted year round but will be subject to a simple scoring mechanism. The scoring form is built into the Application Form. Where an application attains a threshold score and is for less than a threshold value the local Forest Services Area team will be able to approve the application. All other applications will be subject to review by a national scoring panel, which will convene monthly. Applicants will be notified if their application is being put forward for review by the panel.



[1] Sites within HS2 Phase One Act Limits will not be eligible for funding through the HS2 Woodland Fund

Last updated: 14th November 2017