Farmers encouraged to apply for stewardship scheme

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NORTHUMBERLAND farmers interested in applying for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes in 2013/14 should put their names forward now.

Land agency firm Strutt and Parker is urgning farmers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the scheme, which is run by Natural England.

Natural England puts together a list of holdings which it considers to be a priority for HLS agreements each year so it can plan for the future.

Objectives include biodiversity, landscape, resource protection, historic environment and education access.

For example, holdings with populations of rare arable birds such as lapwing, grey partridge or corn bunting may be considered for an agreement designed to secure nesting and feeding habitats.

Suzanne Horn, of Strutt and Parker’s Morpeth office, said: “The environmental body will already know about holdings with existing schemes coming up for renewal as well as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and are likely to have included them in early versions of the draft.

“However, there are other holdings with equally important environment features which may not be on the radar and it is well worth bringing them to their attention.

“HLS is a competitive scheme and only those holdings able to deliver tangible environmental benefits will be granted agreements.

“We are looking at HLS agreements with various clients.

“The ability to make a real environmental difference, be it encouraging rare species or preserving historic buildings, while running a productive efficient farm is definitely something of interest and something of which eligible farmers should take advantage.”

For advice and information about the scheme, contact Strutt and Parker’s Morpeth office on 01670 500870.