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Woodland Carbon Fund

LATEST NEWS: a second stage payment for successful woodland establishment is now available 5 years after planting at a rate of £1000 per ha, in addition the Woodland Carbon Fund also includes payments for forest roads.

About the Woodland Carbon Fund

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 projects (=>10 hectares until the end of July 2018 when the minimum area will change to 30 hectares), 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.

The Woodland Carbon Fund provides 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.

What funding is available?

The Woodland Carbon Fund provides capital funding for the creation of new, productive woodland – this includes the planting of trees and associated protection items including tree guards, fencing and gates. Funding is also available for the installation of forest roads and recreational infrastructure. In addition a one off capital payment of £1000 per ha is available in year 5 to support successful establishment.

The following funding is available, subject to caps outlined below:

  • Standard Planting Rate – applies to most proposals unless in “priority places” (see below). Provides 80% of the standard costs for planting and establishment capital items, capped at £6,800 per ha.
  • Priority Places Planting Rate – applies to proposals in peri-urban areas (those areas surrounding urban areas) that also allow permissive access to the public on foot. Provides 100% of the standard costs for planting and establishment capital items, capped at £8,500 per ha;
  • One off capital payment in year 5 of £1000 per hectare (gross including up to 20% open space) for ensuring successful establishment;
  • Funding for recreational infrastructure such as footpaths at 80% of actual costs (100% in Priority Places) , capped at 10% of the total of an individual application;
  • Funding for forest roads and tracks to support improved access for establishment, maintenance and future harvesting paid at 40% of actual costs.

Applicants to the Woodland Carbon Fund may still be eligible to receive funding under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) for the length of the WCF agreement, subject to meeting BPS eligibility criteria. The standard length of a WCF agreement is 5 years, however, where an agreement includes a second stage payment the agreement length extends to 10 years.

Is my land eligible?

In order to be eligible you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You have 10 hectares of land or more to be planted (up to 20% open space permitted in final design). Your proposals must consist of either a standalone continuous block 10 hectares in area, or at least 10ha of new planting that connects or expands existing woodland. At our discretion we may also provide grant support for additional blocks of woodland creation in landscape-scale projects as long as the blocks are each at least 5 hectares in area (standalone) or a total of 5ha if connecting or expanding existing woodland.
  • 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 General Yield Class (GYC) 6 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 you will need, a UKFS-compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan (the production of which is eligible for funding through the Woodland Creation Planning Grant, subject to its initial criteria) and clearance to plant under Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) (EIA) Regulations 1999 (this may be confirmation that EIA consent is not needed or, should consent be required, consent).
  • Eligibility is limited to privately owned land, land in the ownership of Local Authorities, and land that is publicly owned but is and will be managed by a private enterprise for the diration of the WCF agreement. WCF will not fund work required under e.g. planning consent. Local Authorities are not eligible for the second stage capital payment. We may ask to see a tenancy agreement to confirm the management responsibilities on the land.

What is the process?

You will need to submit an application form to the scheme administrator at wcf@forestry.gsi.gov.uk . This will be assessed by a panel consisting of representatives from Forestry Commission, Defra, Natural England and Environment Agency, who will evaluate applications meeting the criteria set out above to agree funding.

Your application form must be supplemented with either:

  1. 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.
  2. A draft or completed UKFS-compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan or;
  3. Confirmation that Forestry Commission England has given an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening decision that the proposal does not require an EIA, or should consent be required, confirmation that the consent to plant has been awarded.

Where either (a) or (b) applies, 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. Where (c) applies, 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 once planting is complete and following an inspection.

Further Information

The Standard Planting 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 it has not the grant may be re-claimed.

For all schemes, a discretionary grant will be available for recreational infrastructure. This payment will be based on actual costs (we will pay an 80% contribution towards the actual costs), but only paid on demonstration of demand. Total funds available for recreational infrastructure will be capped at 10% of the total of an individual application or 5% of total scheme funds.

Funding for forest road infrastructure will provide access (e.g. for the movement of planting stock, maintenance activities and harvesting operations) for successful establishment and future management of the planned woodland. The Woodland Creation Plan or the proposal you prepared for an EIA determination should identify that poor access currently prevents successful establishment and future management of the proposed woodland.

Agreement holders are likely to need to prepare a detailed specification (if not already included in sufficient detail in your Woodland Creation Plan), tailored to the site. The specification needs to set out the work that will be carried out on site, the volume of timber that is expected to be produced and the soil conditions on site. The specification needs to meet Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations for forest roads and tracks.

Applicants must notify the local planning authority so it can determine whether the work for a forest road can be classified as permitted development. Where offered, the grant will cover 40% of the costs of the lowest of three quotes for the work which you must provide with your application. Your quotes should include VAT. Funding for this grant will be capped at 10% of the total value of the grant application.

These are the current conditions and funding levels that apply at present and they 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.

Background

The Forestry Commission, via Defra, have been allocated £19.2 million from the Spending Review 2015 Capital Allocation to help accelerate tree planting. The Woodland Carbon Fun opened to applications on 10 November 2016 and was welcomed by the Forestry Minister Thérèse Coffey at the Forestry Forum on the 18 October 2016.

In July 2017 the size threshold for this grant was reduced from 30 to 10 hectares. This change will apply until the end of July 2018 and is to give a wider range of land owner's access to the financial assistance available to help plant new, productive woodland. Furthermore in October 2017 a second stage for successful establishment made five years after planting and payments for forest roads were introduced.

Applicants are encouraged to apply for Woodland Creation Planning Grant funding to help with scheme design.

Last updated: 11th November 2017