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Government Funding

Government funding

Through government incentives and grant schemes, farmers and other landowners can access financial support for the planting and maintenance of hedgerows and hedgerow trees. Agricultural policy is devolved, so varies across the UK nations. It is currently an area of significant policy development; as the transition away from the EU Common Agricultural Policy continues, further refinements are likely to take place to the developing UK agri-environment schemes.

A summary of available government funding is provided below, along with links to further information. Please note that while this page is regularly updated, it is important to check government websites to ensure you are accessing current information. Please remember to always check the relevant government webpages for the latest information.

For information on grants and support provided by non-governmental organisations, such as The Tree Council and the Woodland Trust, please click here.

England

The Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024 sets out Defra’s plans for agriculture in England and explains what this will mean for farmers. Since the UK exited the EU, Defra has been developing and piloting their three new Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes:

  • Sustainable Farming Incentive – SFI includes a Hedgerow Standard that will provide financial support for a range of actions, including assessing hedgerow condition, maintaining hedgerow trees, and managing hedgerows for a range of heights. Agreements last for three years.
  • Countryside Stewardship – Many farmers are familiar with Countryside Stewardship, which includes capital grants for hedgerow planting, gapping up, and hedgerow laying. For other options under CS, please click here. It was initially proposed to develop a new Local Nature Recovery strand within ELM; instead, CS has been retained to ease the transition.
  • Landscape Recovery – Landscape Recovery funds a smaller number of longer-term, larger-scale, bespoke projects to enhance the natural environment and deliver significant benefits. This scheme is for projects between 500 – 5000 ha. Examples of projects funded so far are available here.

These three schemes offer different forms of support and have different objectives. For a summary of the payment rate increases for capital and revenue items within the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship please see FWAG SW’s document.

Subscribe to Defra’s Future Farming blog to receive updates.

The Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) published in February 2023 includes a hedgerow expansion and restoration target for England, as well as a canopy cover target for all trees. Delivery of these targets may prompt the development of new policy and support. In addition to agri-environment support, there are other tree planting funds, one of which can be used to fund hedgerow tree planting:

  • Local Authority Treescapes FundLATF provides funding for Local Authorities to restore tree cover in non-woodland areas and can be used for hedgerow tree planting (although not for hedgerows). It is open all year round and LAs are encouraged to work with other parties (e.g. schools, grass root organisations, community groups, NGOs and private individuals) to deliver tree planting.

Northern Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland offer several payments to farm businesses in Northern Ireland, based on land area that they farm, or actions taken within their land. These are known as ‘Area Based Schemes’ (ABS). ABS includes several strands, including:

  • Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
  • Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS)

Information sheets for EFS can be found here, including documents for planting. Introductory training courses in hedge laying are available; Hedge Laying – CAFRE.

Although not strictly relevant to hedgerows, farmers based in Northern Ireland might also be interested in woodland grants, more info here.

Information on the future policy direction in Northern Ireland is available at DAERA’s website, and includes the introduction of a Farm Sustainability Payment.

Scotland

In Scotland, agricultural policy is set by the Scottish Government (Riaghaltas na h-Alba). A useful summary of the direction of policy change can be found here, and Scottish Government have also published a route map, here.

The Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) promotes land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage and contribute to climate change adaptation. Farmers can search for the available options for their holding, here.

There are support options available for hedgerow creation, and for management or restoration of existing hedgerows. Both of these options have various eligibility criteria and management requirements.

Wales

Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru) has set out a timeline for the roll-out of their new Sustainable Farming Management scheme. The scheme includes a proposed target of 10% tree cover for all participating farms – it is not yet decided how individual trees and hedgerows will count towards the target, but it has been indicated that hedgerow trees will be counted. A Q&A document is provided here.

As part of a flexible framework of support during the transition, there is a relevant Small Grant for hedgerow creation:

Welsh Government expects to open the final scheme in January 2025 – until then they continue to engage stakeholders in a co-design process.