Defra unveils this year's £2.5 million CS facilitation fund

The £2.5 million fund encourages farmer collaboration to protect and enhance the local landscape
The £2.5 million fund encourages farmer collaboration to protect and enhance the local landscape

The Countryside Stewardship facilitation fund is set to reopen for applications in December, with the 2022 round including a focus on air quality improvements.

Under the facilitation fund, facilitators - made up of individuals and organisations - bring farmers, foresters and other land managers together to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.

The fund, now entering its sixth round, supports groups to undertake projects while encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing amongst the farming community.

This year's £2.5 million fund has been announced by Defra today (13 September) ahead of the December 2021 application window.

To apply, groups must submit plans showing how they will work together to boost the environment.

Those successful will also offer support and advice to potential applicants for agri-environment schemes.

This year’s fund includes support for new priorities such as the improvement of air quality through slurry removal, reduction of ammonia emissions and managing beaver activity.

Defra farming minister Victoria Prentis said: “By getting involved, farmers and landowners can play a crucial role in supporting our efforts to improve the environment and create cleaner, greener landscapes.

“With today’s announcement we intend to provide sufficient time for potential groups to form and think about their objectives and local priorities, ahead of the fund opening in December.”

To date there have been five rounds of the Facilitation Fund under the current Rural Development Programme for England, funding 139 groups with over 3,800 members.

This further round of funding is expected to invest in over 30 facilitation groups.

Applications will be invited from December, with a closing date of 19 January 2022.