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Nidderdale Hay Making (c) Paul Harris

Farming in Protected Landscapes programme webinar

You may have heard about the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, launched by Defra in July this year and running until March 2024. Under it, farmers and land managers who work in (or next to) Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks can apply for funding for projects that:

  • Support nature recovery
  • Mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and its cultural heritage
  • Support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses.

An introduction to the programme is given in the short video below and you can find further information here. We held an introductory webinar in early September: you can watch the recording here. We plan to run more webinars in the future, so if you’re not already on our mailing list sign up below to hear about new sessions.

The first step in applying for FIPL funding is to contact your AONB (see menu above for contact details for each AONB) or National Park (click here for contact information).

The webinar included a Q&A session; below is a digest of some of the questions and answers. ‘PL’ is the abbreviation for Protected Landscape, which includes AONBs and National Parks. 

Question and answer session

Who and what qualifies, plus funding information

New to this forum, what is the minimum land size to be able to take part in this scheme?

The Farming in Protected Landscape programme is open to all farmers - the size of your holding does not matter. Please get in touch with the farm engagement lead in your Protected Landscape - details can be found at the end of this weblink https://www.gov.uk/guidance/funding-for-farmers-in-protected-landscapes 

Is there a minimum acreage required to access funding / support?

The Farming in Protected Landscape programme is open to all farmers - the size of your holding does not matter. Please get in touch with the farm engagement lead in your Protected Landscape - details can be found at the end of this weblink https://www.gov.uk/guidance/funding-for-farmers-in-protected-landscapes 

How many pages long are the application forms & guidance documents? Does the funding cover building projects which align with FIPL objectives?

Application guidance is 12pp; form is 18pp. If this sounds daunting your PL team or another local adviser may be able to assist.  Building projects which align with the objectives are eligible.

I assume it will be a case by case scenario, but will baseline surveys be supported e.g. historic landscape surveys, baseline ecological surveys, bird counts etc?

Yes, baseline surveys are eligible, particularly where they will inform further action to deliver the FIPL objectives.

Please could there be some explanation of the funding structure? How much? For how long? Rules? Conditions?

Your local Protected Landscape team will be able to let you know the FIPL budget available in their area; the scheme ends 31st Mar '24; rules and conditions are described in the guidance but you'll also get help from your PL team.

What is the £5k threshold that was just mentioned?

If you are applying for less than £5k from FIPL, the decision process can be fast-tracked.

You mention £5k...is that p/year?? Is this the maximum?

This is not a maximum grant level from FIPL, it's the maximum grant level at which a decision can be fast-tracked.

I haven't looked into all the fine print yet - but was under the impression that woodland felling costs (i.e. ride creation) would only be paid at current CS rates e.g. £100/ha. This wouldn't cover even a large portion of the real cost of the ride creation. Could you clarify that this is the case please.

Where an activity has a direct CS equivalent, this is the rate that is offered.  If your activity differs from the CS prescription, there is a case for seeking 3 quotes to carry out the work.

Do we qualify if we are on the edge of an AONB or National Park?

Yes, land on the edge or near to the Protected Landscape (PL) is eligible as long as the proposed project delivers for the PL priorities or is part of a partnership project with the PL.  It is envisaged that the majority of the funding will go to land within the PL.

I was told some time ago by someone at my local AONB that large farmers needed their help as they were too busy, affectively as a small farmer who was not an NFU member, they had the mailing list, therefore I didn't matter. Is this still true?

The Farming in Protected Landscape programme is open to all farmers - the size of your holding does not matter. Please get in touch with the farm engagement lead in your Protected Landscape - details can be found at the end of this weblink https://www.gov.uk/guidance/funding-for-farmers-in-protected-landscapes 

The example FiPL talk had a high % funding compared to costs, when educational visits, scrub and tree management are Cs options. Some pre-application calculations have indicated a low grant compared to actual costs. Have others found this too?

Maximum intervention rates vary according to activity type.  Where an activity has a CS equivalent, this is the rate that is paid. Activities which have no commercial benefit can be supported at 100%, minor commercial benefit at 80% and a commercial project (which meets the objectives) at 40%.  All applications are subject to a value for money assessment; a greater beneficiary contribution may help, but your PL team can guide you.

We are a traditional hill farm sat ontop of a flat, limestone plateau; there are no rivers, trees or moorland on our farm - and I'm not aware that the Peak District National Park have relaxed their views on allowing tree planting if it affects historical stone walls etc. We are on a higher level agreement for our traditional hay meadows and have low numbers of livestock as a result. We sell 100% grass fed beef and lamb and hay not needed is sold. How would the advisors suggest we embrace the Protected Landscapes Project? Thank you.

Start here: https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/looking-after/living-and-working/farmers-land-managers ; seek guidance from Sue & team

Can and how can farmers charge for own time? I have an Higher level cs scheme and am farming 3 sssis. There is work that needs doing that no one else can pay for. Its needed doing for for 12 years.It will cost 20,000 is that a possibility.

It's certainly possible if the works help deliver FIPL objectives. 

Would an element of professional fees be paid as part of any FIPL Application?

Pre-application costs cannot be included, but FIPL can pay for reasonable professional fees for work in delivery of the project.

I would like to understand a little more about support for maintenance works beyond the initial capital spend work. For example, not just planting, but care; not just fencing of tricky areas, but ongoing scrub clearance of any site.

As FiPL is project-based then if there are maintenance requirements for the next 2 years - up to 31 March 2024 when the FiPL ends - then these could be included in the project costs.  If CS options and rates are being used then any maintenance requirements within the option guidance will need to be taken into account.

Please can you confirm that you do not need to have an SBI, ie. any land manager can apply even if they are not a registered farmer on RPA? So private landowners on land outside their residential curtilage can appy?

An SBI is not always required.  If there is an area of agricultural land which is not registered then the PL team may be able to help with getting the land regisered on the RLR if appropriate.

In addition to being a farmer within an AONB , I am also Chair of Parish council which owns extensive woodland and flood plain. Do public bodies such as parish councils qualify?

Yes PS's for this type of land  should be eligible - but please check with your protected landscape.

Why is the funding paid through the AONB organisation? If the AONB organisation has particular views it may block applications which would pass easily in another AONB. Surely a National Scheme should have Nationally agreed criteria.

FiPL is being delivered through a Defra National Framework so it has national guidelines with the flexibility to deliver for local circumstances.

Does FiPL fund second-hand machinery?

FiPL may fund second-hand machinery if it is essential for FiPL outcome delivery.  3 quotes will be required.  Again  please talk to your PL team.

How does it stand with stacking with private funding? E.G. hedge planting for nature in FIPL and private funding for carbon?

No project or part of a project can be double funded.  However appropriate match funding (not other Defra funding) may help with the value-for-money element of the scoring approach.

Are there any restrictions on the type of farming that can apply?

In principle no but we suggest that the exact type of farming proposed is discussed and checked with your PL team.

If fencing was first funded by the original CS but is now in a poor state and needs replacing, can FiPL fund it?

If the fencing is required as part of the project delivering the desired FiPL outcomes and there is no on-going maintenance requirement from the original funding - then yes - please speak to your Protected Landscapes team and see if your project fits with the priorities for the Protected Landscape. 

Can community groups who don't own land apply for funding, e.g. for a number of wildlife nesting boxes for local school, village hall and sport centre buildings?

The land in question has to form part of the farmed environment or an agricultural holding, we also cannot fund land that is managed under statutory duties such as roadside verges, even where that management may be additional or enhancement such as for wildlife.  A 3rd party organisation (e.g. Wildlife Trust) could apply for e.g. nestboxes to be situated across a number of farmed holdings.

Are FIPL funds ringfenced per Protected Landscape? Why are some Protected Landscape bodies (Peak District) so much further down the line than others? We’ve heard nothing from our Nat Park Authority.

Current provisional allocations have been given to each PL.  Defra and the Core Working Group are seeing if some of the Year 1 allocations could be moved to Years 2 and 3 - hence the allocations are still provisional.  PL teams are at different stages of capacity to support FiPL - hopefully FiPL Officers will be in post shortly. Please bear with us!

The application process

Our project is quite a lot larger than the ones mentioned here and involves a planning application. How do we get advice on this before we go through with the design work? Ideas for farming and protecting the ‘look’ of the Yorkshire dales seem to be in conflict.

Contact your PL team for guidance.

How are the assessment panels selected. Will the range of applications both accepted and declined be available to view?

The appointment or selection process differs between many PLs.  Accepted projects will be listed by the PL; the application form may contain information that should not be shared (personal/commercially sensitive).  Declined projects may be subject to modification for resubmission, so are unlikely to be made public.  Talking to your PL team you will get a feel for the projects that are likely to gain support and those that are not.

Are there specific windows for applications and closed times too?

The application window for Year 1 of the programme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/funding-for-farmers-in-protected-landscapes 

When the applicant has got 3 quotes for a project which quote is chosen if their is a large variation in quote amounts?

If all 3 quotes are comparable in quality, the grant offer will be made on the lowest quote.  You may get the work done by any contractor, but the grant payment will be based on the lowest applicable quote.  Some quotes may need to be disregarded if they propose substandard work.

Does a project that proposes a flood mitigation feature need to prove/quantify the potential magnitude of the flood risk reduction benefit to the downstream community at risk?

Recognised techniques such as leaky/woody dams are unlikely to need evidence of the potential magnitude of potential impact.  However if high-cost, more innovative approaches were being proposed these might - it would depend on the project proposal - speak to your PL team.

I live on my own and I do not want my information made public?

Any FiPL payment with the farm reference will need to be available on the PL website - this is the minimum requirement.  Full details will only be provided in agreement with the agreement holder through e.g. case studies or being invited to talk at such events as this one.

Shouldn't farmers be able to use Defra instead of the Protected landscape Area team for ELM?

When ELM is launched in 2024 it will come with its own support and advice package.  This is not yet in place.

Supporting public access

How are you going to balance the public exploring with enhancing landscapes?

This is a challenge that transcends FIPL and all PLs are engaged in it.  FIPL could help resource solutions such as messaging, walling, directed routes, interpretation and signage which could all ameliorate negative visitor impacts.

Where there is high access, invited or otherwise, will you support fencing and provide educational signs for areas specifically set aside for wildlife refuges?

Potentially, where this delivers FIPL objectives and is compatible with statutory access rights in the area concerned.

Timescales

This scheme is being launched at least 6 months after the supposed planned launch date, so we are halfway through the spend period. will DEFRA/RPA act to ensure that any underspend in this financial year will be rolled over for spending in the following year?

The FIPL working group is trying to progress this.

If the AONB doesn't have a lead person appointed and in place now, will the 3 year window be extended?

No - as the programme started later than hoped Defra is working on whether some of the funds from year 1 can be moved to years 2 &/or 3.

Are agreement lengths on a case by case scenario or will all last until March 2024?

They are on a case by case basis.

We were advised to wait for FIPL as it provided wider coverage for such as upgrading an antiquated, insufficient electrical supply, resurfacing a dangerous neglected track, constructing an education centre. We have obviously missed out.

Other national funding streams for increasing production and diversification will come on line later this year.  FiPL funding can be considered for commercial projects only if they increase the resilience of sustainable nature friendly businesses.  FiPL is only just getting going so it is unlikely that anyone has missed out yet - please speak to your PL team to check.


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