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The Nature Improvement Area Project is funded to offer a free advice service on grants including assistance with the submission of applications.

The current Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) ends on 31 December 2013. Work is underway to design a new environmental land management scheme (NELMS) as part of the new programme. In addition, Defra is actively discussing with the European Commission what can be done in the interim period to safeguard the good environmental work previously delivered under the existing schemes. The NIA is in discussion with Defra to try and maximise the incentives available for this area.

Although new schemes are likely to differ from schemes currently available it is likely many options will be similar. If you are interested in any of the schemes below it is well worth contacting an NIA advisor who can advise and offer help in the interim period.

Grants available to land managers include:


Environmental Stewardship – funded by Defra and RDPE to improve land management.

  • Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) supporting the good stewardship of the countryside through simple and effective land management.
  • Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is the organic strand of ELS.
  • Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (Uplands ELS) supports hill farmers with payments for environmental management in Severely Disadvantaged Areas.
  • Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) involves more complex management and agreements are tailored to local circumstances. HLS applications will be assessed against specific local targets and agreements will be offered where they meet these targets.

Click here for more information on Environmental Stewardship.


Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF)

A joint project between the Environment Agency and Natural England, funded by Defra and the RDPE, working in priority catchments. The grant enables farmers and land managers to take voluntary action to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture to protect water bodies and the environment. Capital items include watercourse fencing, roofing for manure stores and cattle/machinery tracks, where each item has a guide price. The NIA advisers are able to assist with CSF applications and provide relevant technical advice on the scheme.

We are awaiting further information as to whether there will be a capital grant scheme in 2015 and beyond. We will provide further information here when it is available, but to keep up to date with scheme progress nationally, click here for more information on Catchment Sensitive Farming on the Natural England website. If you live in the Torridge catchment and would like further advice on CSF, please contact Louise Davis.


Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS)

Financial support aimed at helping farmers, foresters, farming contractors, woodland owners and horticultural businesses to improve competitiveness through investment that meets one or more of the following objectives: Improve animal health and welfare Reduce energy usage Improve the management of manures/farm nutrients Improve water resource management Improve use of forestry resources. We are awaiting further information on this scheme.


Devon County Council

A specific, small one-off capital grant aimed at reducing flood risk that is overseen by Devon Wildlife Trust’s Nature Improvement Area project. The grant is usually offered at a percentage of total costs and can include capital items such as fencing, culverts and re-creating species rich meadows. Contact the NIA team for more details.


Woodland Grants

There are several grants available to help woodland managers, as follows:

  • Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant supporting the sustainable production of woodfuel and other timber products.
  • Woodland Improvement Grant funding backs capital projects such as rhododendron clearance.
  • Woodland Management Grant supports regular management work such as pest control.
  • Woodland Creation Grant could help towards the cost of establishing new woodland.

Click here for more information on Woodland Grants.


If you would like more information or advice on any of the above, you can contact our team of advisors. See the Contact Us page for details.