The Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has said that the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which has a total budget of £900 million, will help protect bees and other pollinators as well as the wider countryside.
Over the next five years the new Countryside Stewardship scheme will offer grants to help improve our environment and countryside – with £85 million set aside to support projects in 2016.
Bees and pollinators are one of four main priorities for the scheme, which is being run on a competitive basis for the first time this year, with applications ranked and money only awarded to those who will make the biggest improvements in their local area. Extra points will be given to agreements working to support bees and pollinators and other farm wildlife.
Elizabeth Truss said, “This is the first ever countryside stewardship scheme that specifically combines help for bees and pollinators as well as wildlife, woodland and rivers. This will mean more margins and meadows with colourful wildflowers in our countryside. Productive farming goes hand in hand with improving the environment.”
However, NFU Vice President Guy Smith warned, “At this late stage, there are still a number of questions about how the scheme will work but we are committed to working with Defra and Natural England on its development and – more importantly – how it will be implemented on the ground.”