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Following the recent announcement in our May newsletter around the launch of the new England Woodland Creation Offer, this was finally opened on the 9th June 2021.

In our April newsletter we provided some thoughts on the wider context for woodland creation in our article “Woodland Creation: An opportunity to be taken seriously”.  In this article it was noted that a key part of the picture was that, if the Government is to meet its highly aspirational planting targets, then enhanced levels of public support will be one of the key elements.  This must be a funding offer that recognises the significant cost implications of planting and maintaining new woodlands, but one which also recognises the significant benefits in natural capital and ecosystem services that they provide for society.

England Woodland Creation Offer

Full details of the new offer can be found on the gov.uk website. In summary the new grant offers a substantially improved and more flexible offer for those considering woodland creation on their properties.

Key Headlines

Size:  Now reduced to a scheme size of 1ha with individual blocks now able be as small as 0.1ha i.e. some 33m x 33m. Areas must be at least 20m wide or 10m where they are planted as a riparian buffer or shelterbelt.

Comment: This really opens the opportunity to pick up areas of unutilised or unproductive ground and bring these together as a viable package of work.

Funding Rates

Woodland Establishment

Capital Items: The base funding has been increased based on a comprehensive suite of standard costs, with the aim that these will meet most of the woodland creation cost. The funding cap for these capital costs has been increased to £8,500/ha.

Maintenance Payments: In addition to the capital funding annual maintenance payments of £200/pa will be available for the first ten years.

Additional Contributions

In recognition of the wider benefits that woodlands can provide a suite of additional contributions are also available to cover:-
  • Nature recovery: to expand existing woodland;
  • Water quality: reduction and interception of pollution;
  • Reduced flood risk: natural flood management;
  • Riparian buffers:  improvement of river habitats;
  • Proximity to settlements:  new woodland near to where people live; and
  • Access:  Long term high quality permissive public access for recreation.

The availability of supplements will be decided based on a range of locations and design factors. However, most schemes should be able to access a valuable suite of supplements.

Comment: It is anticipated that most schemes will be funded at a rate of circa £10K to £12K/ha including supplements and maintenance payments.

Basic Payment Scheme: It will still be possible to claim Basic Payments on land entered the EWCO scheme.
Infrastructure: EWCO can also provide funding for infrastructure works, with funding available at 40% of costs for management infrastructure and 100% for recreational infrastructure.

Carbon: EWCO makes no additional payments for Carbon, however, applicants will be encouraged to register scheme with the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) www.woodlandcarboncode.org.uk. which should open the opportunity to access private funding for “Woodland Carbon Units”.

Comment: Carbon can be one of the key drivers for new woodland creation is carbon, with new woodlands capable of sequestering some 170No tonnes C02 per hectare over 25years. We are now seeing increased interest in the market for carbon credits with prices strengthening by the week and offers now being secured in excess of £30/tonne C02, (£5,100/ha over 25yr).

Private Finance: The government are very keen to open the pathway for projects to access private finance, not only for Carbon as noted above, but also for potential markets for flood prevention, biodiversity enhancement, water and air quality.

Comment: Current rules are complex, but Lockhart Garratt are working closely with interested parties across the sector to provide these opportunities for clients and potential projects. In particular we are working closely with the Forest Canopy Foundation and Grown in Britain to bring landowners and investors together to support high quality woodland creation projects.

As we mentioned in our article ‘Woodland Creation: An opportunity to be taken seriously’ , especially with the revised funding rates, increased flexibility over block size and increased investment interest.  Woodland is now an option to really be given serious consideration.

Woodland Creation Audit Report

To support our clients in this area we can prepare a simple briefing note to present clear opportunities as to where tree planting could be undertaken on an estate or farm.  This will be backed up by sound, evidence-based technical advice together with accurate budgeting and financial analysis.  In our view that woodland creation, in conjunction with wider sustainable management of existing woodlands, is an option that needs to be taken seriously with the context of wider rural land management.

To find out more please contact:

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