A NEW programme of grants has recently been launched for farmers and land managers working in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

With ten National Parks coving some 9.3 per cent of the land area of England, and 46 AONBs covering a further 15 per cent, a huge number of on-farm projects are expected to be able to qualify for support. Mike Dyke, Environment and Woodland Advisor for H&H Land & Estates, says: “The Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) grant aims to support projects which address nature recovery, climate change, people and place.

"The grant has been designed to support bespoke projects that don’t necessarily fit well into the existing suite of grants. These could include the restoration of historic buildings/features of landscape importance, habitat creation, restoration or expansion, supporting a locally-branded food initiative, action to reduce carbon emissions on-farm and actions to reduce flood risk.

“The grant may also be able to assist with items one might apply for under Countryside Stewardship or other grant scheme, but are prohibited due to business type or existing agreements. For example, if a farm remains under a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, they would be unable to apply for Countryside Stewardship funding to deliver a new project. FiPL however could support the project, as long as there is no ‘double funding’.”

Funding can be up to 100 per cent of costs for non-profit projects, with lower per cent grants where a commercial project is proposed. Grants range from £1,000 to £250,000 and are being delivered by AONB partnerships and National Park Authorities. Many have taken on additional staff to deliver the scheme.

Mike said: “I should think this is a terrific opportunity to find funding for that project that does little for the bottom line of the business, but will enhance the landscape and improve the farm.

"Restoring field barns, habitat creation, consolidating archaeological sites, improving visitor interpretation could all be supported, but projects which create a new revenue stream may be supported too.

"On-farm meat processing facilities for direct sale of farm products, milk vending machines, purchase of equipment to reduce carbon emissions and other innovative projects are likely to represent significant farm investment and this could be the opportunity to receive support.”

FiPL is expected to run for two years, with an application deadline of January 31.