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Woodland Creation Planning Grant

LATEST NEWS: The application threshold has been reduced to 10 hectares as of 31 July 2017, read on for more information. 

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 10 hectares in area and showing potential to benefit the forestry sector in the long-term through the provision of timber or other wood products. In particular, at least 70% of the species in the  proposed new woodland must be productive, and at least one woodland block must be 10 ha or more in size, with any additional blocks being at least 5ha in size. This means if your application is less than 15 ha in total it must be formed of a single woodland block. 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?

Please note, you must wait until a signed agreement is in place before you start any work.

Applicants are required to complete the Application Form and return it to the grant scheme administrator: The form asks for an outline of the planting proposals.

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 UKFS compliant Woodland Creation Design Plan, consisting of a completed Stage 2 template with accompanying Context Map, Site Appraisal Plan, Design Concept Plan and Final Design Plan. The template explains what each plan must show and how these documents fit with the written template.

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?

 Stage  Requirement  Payment
  A completed Stage 1 Checklist and supporting documents including at least one map showing any constraints for 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 that are present on site. 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. 
In total we will pay £150 per hectare, this per hectare payment will incorporate the £1000 stage 1 payment. Payment will be based on the gross area of the proposed woodland with a limit of 20% open space. 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.

To apply for an Extraordinary Payment(s) please complete the Extraordinary Payment Application Form and submit this with your Stage 1 checklist.
Stage 2b: Synthesis

Completed Stage 2 Woodland Creation Design Plan template.

Production of the maps and plans listed in the template, including a Design Concept Plan showing an outline proposal(s) that has analysed scheme objectives, the site appraisal and any other relevant survey work.

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.

In July 2017 the threshold for this grant was reduced from 30 to 10 hectares. This change, that will apply until the end of July 2018, is to give a wider range of landowners access to the financial assistance available to help plan and plant new, productive woodland.

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.

Last updated: 14th March 2018