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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 from webinar

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

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.

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

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.

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

Application guidance is 12 pages; form is 18 pages. 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.

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.

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.

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.

We are a traditional hill farm sat on top 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? 

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

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.

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.

Could the programme cover road verges or community owned land?

No, sorry. Land 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.

Can and how can farmers charge for own time?

A farmer cannot charge for their own time. Where appropriate, own labour can be used for self-delivery within a project and the applicant may use day rates and costings published in Nix Farm Handbook or the Agricultural Costings Book, but any rate must be comparative alongside other quotes.

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. nest boxes to be situated across a number of farmed holdings.

I have a 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 12 years. It will cost £20,000 is that a possibility?

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

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.

We have a substantial Victorian wall garden (now in total disrepair and falling down ) connected to  a house with a lot of significant historical history and a private chapel built in 1802. Are there any grants / funding available under Historic conservation please?

Historic buildings are eligible where they are part of a farmed holding.  As they are potentially very high-cost items, it is worth talking to your local PL team to find out if the restoration is a high priority for them and likely to be scored favourably.

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.

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 there 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.

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.


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