A MAJOR planting fund has increased its financial incentives on offer to landowners and farmers. 

The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) will now cover costs of items used to plant new woodland at £10,200 per hectare, a 20 per cent rise on its previous rate. Maintenance payments have also increased to £350/ph per year for a decade, up from £300. 

The cash - which can go towards deer fencing, water gates, piping and tree shelters - will apply to all future applications to the EWCO, including all applications currently under review.

Industry figures have welcomed the news, saying it could provide a major boost to planting rates in England, which are among the worst in the UK. 

Dean Latten, site director at tree shelter manufacturer Tubex, said: “It’s no secret that the forestry sector in England is lagging behind the rest of the UK, so this response from the government is very welcome.  

"Forestry projects still face significant problems with securing planning permission and excessive red tape – but more money for frankly essential planting equipment is a good step in the right direction.

Forestry Journal:

"Equipment covered by the subsidies such as fencing and tree shelters are vital to making sure that the trees we plant are still here in 10 years’ time and beyond.”  

Elsewhere, the payment rates for Countryside Stewardship revenue options has also changed, Defra confirmed.

The new revenue rates have been introduced for all new and existing Mid Tier and Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship agreements, from 1 January 2023.

On average, there will be a 10 per cent increase in revenue rates, Defra explained in a new blog post.

READ MORE: Complications over EWCO application putting landowners off tree planting, MPs told

However, this will differ between agreements and not all revenue rates will increase if the evidence suggests current rates reflect market conditions.

The change is set to be rolled out to the some 30,000 Countryside Stewardship agreement holders across England.

H&H Land & Estates forestry manager, Sarah Radcliffe, said: “This is good news for the industry. 

"This the first time Countryside Stewardship capital items have been increased since the scheme was introduced, and it is good to see the Forestry Commission also acknowledging the need to amend their offer to keep up with the rate of inflation and the rising costs of materials.”

Previously, it had been announced the EWCO, which was only launched in 2021, will become part of the Local Nature Recovery scheme – one of the new environmental land management (ELM) schemes – from 2025.