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Maximised Funding for Woodland Creation

Client / Site: Viridor / Pilsworth South Landfill

In spring 2011 we were instructed to implement 15 hectares (ha) of advance woodland planting alongside strategic planning work. We explored grant funding incentives with the aim of offsetting the implementation costs and demonstrating engagement with the National Forestry Authority. NB. Forestry Commission grants are available for work required as a condition of planning.

The Rural Land Registration (RLR) is a separate system of registration from the HM Land Registry which confirms ownership rights to a property. Rural land must be logged on the RLR to receive payments of grant or subsidy for agriculture and forestry. Therefore, we lodged an application to the RLR immediately after the instruction was received and was given the 2-3 month processing time. The main grant funding applications were then lodged in good time for planting in the coming winter.

The Forestry Commission identifies zones of upgraded funding for woodland creation on the basis of new public access provision or habitat creation. The North West region has an additional incentive for native woodland creation to benefit rare woodland bird populations. Public access next to operational land was not appropriate for Viridor in this circumstance. The site was also just outside the boundary of the bird habitat zone.

We therefore opted for a proactive submission to the Forestry Commission, sending the restoration design to the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Officer and suggesting that, whilst the line on the map excluded the area, the site would buffer and extend the habitat zone. We requested a discretionary approach on the basis of practical landscape ecology and the Forestry Commission was receptive to this. The grant secured covered 65% of implementation costs as opposed to 30% for the baseline rates.

We also explored annual revenue funding under the Forestry Commission’s Farm Woodland Payment (FWP) Scheme. FWP is intended to replace farming income foregone for the 15 year period following planting until first thinning and the potential release of timber income. To be eligible, Viridor needed documentary proof that the land had been farmed for three years and maintained in good agricultural condition.

We were once again proactive in its liaison with the Forestry Commission and worked with Viridor land agents to track down proof needed. We identified that, although the land was restored, it had been in place for over three years. We also identified that, whilst the area had not been actively grazed, it had been mown and retained as set-aside. This negotiation allowed a further income stream which will cover 30% of the five-year aftercare costs.

The bold and transparent engagement with the Forestry Commission has proven valuable in maximizing grant support. Significant additional funding has been secured and the communication with Forestry Commission staff has set a useful precedent for future opportunities.

“Lockhart Garratt has been proactive in identifying funding opportunities and Viridor are grateful for their tenacity in confirming and securing supplementary payments to support the aftercare work”.

Phil Baker, Viridor

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