DEFRA puts competition into countryside stewardship

Competitive bidding for grants in English countryside stewardship funding scheme sparks warnings that initiative might work for neither farmers or the environment

The government has launched a new Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) aimed at boosting farming’s conservation status in England. Critics have warned that it could end up working for neither farmers nor the environment.

The CSS was formally announced on 1 July. Under it,  £900m of grant money will be made available over the next five years to incentivise farmers to aid conservation efforts.

Some £85m has been set aside for grants in 2016. Natural England, which will administer the scheme, is understood to be targeting 5,000 agreements by 1 January, when the CSS officially goes live.

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